Ryan Campaign: Hand Off Heart Was Debate Slip

Presidential candidate Tim Ryan said his failure to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem at the CNN-aired Democratic debate Tuesday night (July 30), as every other candidate did, was an inadvertent slip and won't happen again.

The TV image of Ryan with his hands clasped in front of him in a line of hand-to-heart candidates drew comment from commentators and fire from conservatives:


And stories on Fox News and in the conservative Washington Examiner, among others. The Examiner's headline was: "2020 Democrat Tim Ryan refuses to put hand over heart during US national anthem."

In a statement Wednesday morning (July 31), his campaign said:

“Congressman Ryan wasn’t protesting and didn’t mean to make any statement last night in Detroit; it was a moment of absentmindedness while on a debate stage that won’t happen again. He was, in fact, singing along with the choir to honor our country. Congressman Ryan loves our country and will continue to honor the flag during the anthem in future events, as he has in countless events in the past.”

Look for every candidate to have their hands firmly placed on heart when the CNN camera pans across Wednesday night's day two debate in Detroit. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.