PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Far from putting the controversial issue of race behind him, Barack Obama has decided to address the issue head on in a speech Tuesday.
"I am going to be talking not just about Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign - which has ramped up over the last couple of weeks," Obama told reporters in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod characterized the speech, to be delivered in Philadelphia, as "a discussion on race and politics."
"Given the events of the last few weeks, Obama felt it was time to address the issue of race and politics directly, and what it means in our country," Axelrod said.
News of the speech comes days after the Illinois senator formally denounced controversial sermons delivered by his former minister and longtime friend, Jeremiah Wright. The racially-charged remarks came under fire after being the subject of an ABC News report last week.
Axelrod described the Illinois senator as "a force for reconciliation" and said he wants the opportunity "to put this into context."
Speaking with reporters, Obama said the media is portraying Wright inaccurately.
"I think the caricature that is being painted of him is not accurate, and so part of what I will do tomorrow is to talk about how these issues are perceived from within the black church community for example which I think skews this very differently."
UPDATE: Axelrod later told CNN's Gloria Borger that the Illinois senator has "always contemplated giving a speech like this."
“He will address the broader questions of race and politics, these are complex issues that transcend Barack Obama, and are fault lines in our politics and society, and, ultimately, can be a barrier…They’re easily exploited, and hard to address," he said.
(Updated with Obama comments)
- CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux and Mike Roselli contributed to this report