Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Apr 30, 2008; Section:Today/Politics; Page Number:5A


Obama says he’s outraged by former pastor’s comments

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS



    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Barack Obama angrily denounced his former pastor for “divisive and destructive” remarks on race, seeking to divorce himself from the incendiary speaker and a fury that threatens to engulf his frontrunning Democratic presidential campaign.

    Obama is trying to tamp down the uproar over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a tough time in his campaign. The Illinois senator is coming off a loss in Pennsylvania to rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and trying to win over white working-class voters in Indiana and North Carolina in next Tuesday’s primaries.

    “I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” Obama told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

    His strong words come just six weeks after Obama delivered a sweeping speech on race in which he sharply condemned Wright’s remarks but did not leave the church or repudiate the minister himself, who he said was like a family member. After weeks of staying out of the public eye while critics lambasted his sermons, the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago made three public appearances in four days to defend himself.

    On Monday, Wright criticized the U.S. government as imperialist and stood by his suggestion that the United States invented the HIV virus as a means of genocide against minorities. “Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything,” he said.

    And perhaps even worse for Obama, Wright suggested that the church congregant secretly concurs.

    “If Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected,” Wright said. “Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls.”