ABC News’ Jennifer Parker, Bret Hovell and Sunlen Miller Report: Michelle Obama, the wife of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Wednesday attempted to clarify remarks she made Tuesday about being proud of the country.
Michelle Obama has been criticized for the comments, with some suggesting her remarks were unpatriotic.
Campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Monday, Michelle Obama said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."
In a rare move, Cindy McCain, wife of the Arizona senator, took on Michelle Obama’s comment Tuesday as she introduced her husband at a rally. "I’m proud of my country, I don’t know if you heard those words earlier. I’m very proud of my country," she said.
The Arizona senator also made a subtle dig at Michelle Obama’s comments during his victory speech Tuesday night.
"I have never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I haven’t been proud of the privilege" of being an American, McCain said in Columbus, Ohio.
In interviews on Wednesday, Michelle Obama attempted to clarify her remarks.
"What I was clearly talking about was that I’m proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process," she told WJAR in Rhode Island today.
"For the first time in my lifetime, I’m seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out – and that’s the source of pride that I was talking about," she added.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was asked about Michelle Obama’s comments during an interview today and she stressed how proud she was of the country.
"You know, I’ve been proud a lot of America," Clinton said during an interview with WJAR Wednesday. "I think we’ve all been disappointed in our country. But I’ve been proud of America on many occasions during my lifetime."
Senator Obama also attempted to clarify his wife’s remarks Tuesday and expressed frustration that his wife’s comments had become political fodder.
"Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant," Obama said during an interview on WOAI radio in San Antonio, Texas.
"What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America," he said. "Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged."
The reaction by McCain’s wife Tuesday has taken many people aback.
Cindy McCain has generally stayed out of the political fire and spent much of last year telling audiences that her first reaction to the idea that her husband might enter the presidential race was “No!” But she stood next to him during a press conference after the Tuesday rally.
The two were asked what they thought of Obama’s comments, and if Cindy was responding to them directly?
“I don’t think we have any comment on that, do we?” McCain said Tuesday, looking at his wife. “Do you have any comment?”
“I just wanted to make the statement that I have and will always be proud of my country,” she replied.
Cindy McCain was given another opportunity later in the day in Columbus, Ohio, to amp up what one veteran campaign reporter called a “spousal spat.” Did Cindy McCain intend for her remarks to “tweak” Michelle Obama?
“Well really all it was about is I always have been and will always be extremely proud of my country. I’ve led a very fortunate life. It was nothing more than that. I’m just very proud to be an American,” Cindy Mccain said.
Somewhat subdued, perhaps, for the drama-hungry press corps.
But if the general election turns into a McCain-Obama match, maybe it was an opening skirmish in the battle between each candidate’s biggest supporters.
ABC News’ Kate Snow contributed reporting. This report was updated to include Michelle Obama’s attempt Wednesday to clarify her remarks.