March 18th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
7 years ago

Blitzer: Obama had fine line to walk

Obama had a difficult task Tuesday.
Obama had a difficult task Tuesday.

(CNN) - Barack Obama had to walk a very fine line. He had to reassure the American public that he was strongly condemning the harsh words of his long-time minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. At the same time, he had to reassure many of his African-American supporters that he wasn’t simply ready to abandon Wright. It was not an easy assignment.

Obama said that Wright “expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America.”

He also said this of his minister: “As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children.”

Obama had no choice. He had to deliver this speech as much as he has wanted to avoid the entire subject. The brief clips of Wright’s angry remarks about the United States could not be ignored. Even some of Obama’s most ardent and passionate supporters going back to the start of his campaign were deeply worried. They feared that those clips (and, potentially, many more that have not yet aired) could derail his presidential ambition unless Obama addressed the subject head-on. He needed to take pre-emptive action. He did.

Now, we wait for the reaction and the fallout.

– Wolf Blitzer

soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Edgar

    Reaction – he lied to America saying he was uniter when in reality his mind had a different view of America!

    God Bless America and save it from Obama!

    March 18, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. fred

    Obama is a liar!!!

    Plain and simple truth, all you have to do is listen and he tells lie after lie. Time for Obama to pull out of the race. We sure don't need someone like him in the White House....as far as that goes...we don't need someone like him in the Senate!!!

    March 18, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Hillary/Blitzer

    Well Wolf, we know what your reaciton is going to be, but we don't care. Your "Hillary For President" button looks a little tarnished, you might want to get another one.

    Speaking of replacements, I think CNN needs a new anchor.

    Obama 08

    March 18, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. carlo

    No, he didn't have a choice, Wolf. Even John McCain, someone who I think is a little too trigger happy to be commander in chief, chided Hannity about pushing this issue and magnifying it disproportionately. Apparently he did a good job, though. Hillary announced the release of her white house records to try to steal his thunder.

    Of course, the comments board will be overrun with people who weren't going to vote for him in the first place claim that now they "really" don't like him.

    March 18, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Mark, VA

    Obama talks about unity and overcoming divisiveness, but actions speak louder than words. So far all Obama has done is show he can use words well, maybe well enough to fool enough people to nominate him. However, if all this had come out in January, he would not be at 1,600+ delegates. In fact the process would have been over after Super Tuesday. It is time for change alright...it is time to change Obama out as the front runner. Here the problem: I don't know when to believe him anymore. Obama has just reversed himself. Last week he said he did not personally witness divisive things or inflammatory things said in the church by Rev Wright. Now he said he did hear inflammatory things said by Rev. Wright, but disagreed with him. If I ever saw Obama as a different kind of politician it just went up in smoke. His judgment is what he has been leaning on to get around Clinton's experience, but now he lost that as well. If this is not a lack in judgment I am not sure what is.

    March 18, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. jp/michigan

    One thing that the Obama speech did, was take a man , who is black running for President and distinguished him now ,to be a black man running for President. He has succeed to take us back to the hatred of the 50's and 60's, where the black American blamed the white American for all that ails. I for one, do not want to go back to those days, but obviously people like Rev. Wright , whom he admires is stuck there.

    March 18, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. sophia

    as upsetting as that video was, i am happy to see obama not disown rev. wright. yes, obviously rev. wright has his own set of racial opinions and issues (most likely due to past experiences), but that doesn't change who he is. i'm glad obama sees past that. that makes him a bigger person.

    March 18, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Nicholas Hussein

    Obama certainly did have a choice, Wolf. He could've taken the route your candidate surely would've taken – continue ignoring the whole thing and responding to any criticism with a deflection & mention of the opposing candidates' perceived weaknesses.

    Instead, he made a courageous and monumental speech. But you probably missed the jist of it while you were busy anticipating the fallout.

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. bakersfield

    HE SAID WE CAN MOVE PAST SOME OF OUR RACIAL WOUNDS, WAS HE SAYING BY ELECTING HIM AS PRESIDENT, OR BY TAKING A STAND WHEN WE HEAR THIS TYPE OF HATE BY NOT ATTENDIND THIS TYPE OF HATRED BEING PREACHED.

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. BLUEDEM22

    Obama has acknowledged that he WAS in church when his pastor made those hateful comments, contracting his denials he made this past weekend. why dont yoy talk about this WOLF, HOW STUPID YOU THINK AMERICAN ARE FOR US THE IMPRTANT THING ABOUT THIS SPEECH WILL OBAMA IS JUST A LIAR AND HE IS PLAYING WITH YOU CNN WORST POLITICAL TEAM

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. Mike

    Obama made the fine line by not discounting these issues years ago when they were spoken by his pastor. Now he has the choice of turning his back on his pastor to save his political skin or stick by him as he has been and admit he feels the government was behind 9/11.

    Obama has caught himself in his own web.

    We haven't even talked about the numerous other issues Obama hasn't addressed yet.

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. jp/michigan

    Thank you Mr. Obama, we are now in black vs white Presidential race!

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. canadianfan

    As a Canadian I cannot understand all this uproar over RACE! A person is a person. I do not agree as most people do not over some of the pastor's comments, but this is the pastor. Most of us have a differences of opinion with our pastor's and if you don't agree to this you are not being honest. Obama would be your best president, his values and actions prove this! The Clintons continually come out with negativity, and Obama responds. Actually he may be more American than those of one colour as he sees the world from both sides being both white and black! I hope you vote for Obama and get America on the right track!! Go Obama.

    March 18, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. La Petite Sorciere

    Yes he does specially when CNN and the Clintons keep spining things out of control_
    but he did well, he is our leader!!

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. orlandobhb

    a wonderful, insightful and moving speech. Anyone who actually listens to or reads the speech has to admire Obama's sincerity, thoughtfulness and vision. He is a remarkable leader and the US will be fortunate indeed to have him as our next President.

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. MCNEIL

    WOLF GREAT SPEECH FROM YOU TOO .JUST LISTEN TO WHAT YOU ARE SAYING....HE HAD TO MAKE THIS SPEECH...HAD ..IS THE OPERATIVE WORD...HE WAS FALLING IN THE POLLS AND HE HAD TO SAY SOMETHING.....OF COURSE HE IS GOING TO SAY WHAT YOU AND OTHERS WANT TO HEAR.HES A POLITICAN............AND WOLF TELL JACK TO ASK THE SAME QUESTION ABOUT OBAMA WOULD HE DO ANYTHING TO WIN ...WHY IS IT ALWAYS A HILARY QUESTION...LETS BE FAIR ...I KNOW THAT WILL BE HARD FOR JACK BECAUSE HE IS NOT ABOUT FAIRNESS WHEN IT COMES TO HILARY.........WHY ARE THOSE 3 ALWAYS THE BEST POLITICAL TEAM............JACK, ROLAND , GLORIA .THEY ARE ALL OBAMA FANS YOU HEAR IT IN THERE VOICES AND ON THERE FACES ..WHATS FAIR ABOUT THAT ..........

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. r sisk, nevada

    I find this very bothersome. I like Obama but now question his authenticity. Explain why you would consider someone who preaches hatred, family? Would you want them to baptize your children? Officiate your wedding? Worse yet, would you stay in that congregation for 20 years? I heard the sermons being distributed around the internet and just listening to this mans message once would have sent me packing. Sorry Obama, you lost me here. You're telling the nation one thing, and listening to another.

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. clarity

    Obama just kinda' scooted round the issue, using generalizations.
    Where was the meat...? There was no insight as to why he supported such a divisive orginization for so long or why he lied about it.

    The whole this is all very sad.
    I'm sure there are a lot of disillusioned folks out there today.

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    WHY ARE PEOPLE SO CRAZY?

    LYNCHING ONE MAN FOR WHAT SOMEBODY ELSE SAID.

    I JUST HOPE MY NEIGHBOR HASN'T SAID OR DONE ANYTHING CRAZY, OTHERWISE I MIGHT HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE CONSQUENCES.

    March 18, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. Eric - Chicago

    The "fallout" as you put it, is going to be that nothing changes. Obama is still the inevitable democratic nominee, and the only way Clinton can possibly pull out a win is by winning several states by a greater than 75% margin, or by winning a state or two by 85% (preventing Obama from receiving any delegates at all).

    The only people who gain ammo out of this event are those that are so full of hate that they will continue to spew that hate regardless of what Obama says or does. Those smart enough to see through the hate mongering and see two very qualified democratic candidates before them will make the choice to either continue researching the accomplishments and goals of each candidate, or they will choose one one to support some other basis (who is the most trustworthy, who do I simply like the most).

    In the end, what really needs to happen is the democratic party needs to start playing the "wrap it up" oscar music, and get on to more important things, like unseating the Bush legacy that will continue on through McCain and his bellicose nature.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for another World War. Remember that, even if your dem candidate of choice loses.

    March 18, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Jones in Sacramento

    I thought more was made of the issue than it merited anyway. I thought all of the news media including CNN kept playing over and over the tape from Barack's church just to get a rise from the people. I'm glad to see the Senator Obama address it and put the issue away. No one has talked about Hillary's or McCain's pastor to this extent and I'm sure they have said things that they do not agree with.

    It is just a distraction from what we as a country really need to focus on.

    March 18, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Ratgurl

    Kudos to Obama for taking on such a touchy subject. Now if only we could get all those bigotted people -of ALL races- to open their minds, listen, and just TRY to absorb some of the content, he might have made this country a slightly better place to be.

    March 18, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. News For CNN

    Barack's speech was history making, and will be remembered for his candor. Spin that.

    If you need something to do go trash the "I Have A Dream" speech–you vultures. Thanks for supporting Hillary, and McCain this past weekend.

    Obama 08

    March 18, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. George

    Obama had to walk a fine line because we all embrace the "big lie" that somehow America is pristine and not stained by it's history of racism. We have fallible leaders, yet our country is infallible – how can that be? We have a flawed foreign policy that ostracizes Cuba, yet embraces Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A "might is right policy" is never without repercussions. WAKE UP AMERICA! We can never move forward until we own up to our reflection in the mirror.

    March 18, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Celia Ann

    He did an Excellent Job, He didn;t run from this issue or any others that have been placed before him. That is what leaders do. He was candid and I believe (as a multiracial and multi-ethinc woman) he explained his perspective in a thoughtful and heartfelt way.

    It is amazing to me that we have forgotten Billy Graham's anit-semetic comments to President Nixon, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others who have said whatever they want to.

    Truthfully, this country has not really looked at itself. Those who have had historically successful lives maynot be able to relate to what he had to say.

    I would be proud to have Senator Barack Obama as my President. He is transparent, trustworthy strong in his conviction to have open and meaningful dialogue. I am really, really proud of him!!!

    March 18, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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