Seeking to quell the furor over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s latest remarks, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama sought to separate his campaign from his former pastor by calling Wright’s comments “appalling and outrageous.”
“When I say I find something appalling, I mean it,” he said to reporters at a press conference in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to the Washington Post. “I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.”
On Monday, Wright spoke out against the media and the government, saying the controversy surrounding him was not about Sen. Obama or even himself, but was an attack “on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.”
Media attention on Wright has centered on past statements regarding the Sept. 11 attacks — when he said America “had brought the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on itself because of its ‘terrorism’,” as the Agence France-Presse recapped — and the plight of blacks in America, among other issues.
Obama’s direct condemnation of Wright Tuesday stands in contrast to his more subtle response to Wright’s comments in his speech on race, religion in politics given in Philadelphia in March.
In that speech, he acknowledged his disagreements with Wright, saying “I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy.” Quickly, however, he mentioned his close connection to Wright, who baptized both of his daughters and whose sermons he followed closely for many years.
“The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor,” he said, adding, “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street.”
“I find these comments appalling. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am,” Obama said, according to the New York Times. “They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced. That’s what I am doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”
On Monday, Wright told reporters he was not offended by Obama’s disapproval of his comments, but said “politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.”
When asked about the future of his relationship with the pastor, Obama said Tuesday, “there has been great damage. I do not see the relationship being the same after this.”