March 18th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
10 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. Margo

    Apparently many of you didn't listen, Senator Obama stated he has heard inflammatory statements. That doesn't mean he heard the specific statements that have been on the news. Big difference.

    March 18, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Saqui Huq

    Well, Wolf,
    He said best he can, " he can't diswon his pastor as much as he can't diswon his grandma" America should start healing itself from it's past wound "history of slavaery and racism" and look for change in future with Obama. He is the right person who is as much black and as much white. He can take you there. Saqui

    March 18, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Annette in Little Rock

    I have even more respect for Senator Obama. Wolf, it is easy to see that not only are you a Hillary supporter, you make it clear that you do not like Obama. Just the wording of your articles tell the truth about you. Barack Obama did a wonderul job and I commed him for his wisom, courage and insight to attack the race issue head on.
    Proud to be an Obama campaigner...
    Obama 08!!!
    YES WE CAN!!

    March 18, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Mike

    I think it is unfortunate that most of the individuals posting here seem to be just interested in ranting from their pre-established positions, instead of rationally evaluating the issue at hand!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Ed

    What is happening right now in America is that People should stay home and not go to churuch because whatever your paster say will affect you politically some day even if you don't agree.

    March 18, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. ryan

    Ferraro's comments of 2 weeks ago are PROOF of the things Obama speaks on. Racism is not dead, even if Wright's manner of speaking on them is inflammatory.

    The same people in these comments lists saying Ferraro was "right" are back now acting like Wright's comment's are the worst thing in the world. Hypocrites, all of you.

    March 18, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Meow

    How come Obama did not apologize to Clinton for his pastor's remarks????


    March 18, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. norb

    To Obama. Welcome to the real world of politics. If you think it's rough now. And, if you get the Democratic nomination. Just think what the Karl Rove/McCain Republican's are going to do? They'll probably have you and the Reverend Wright driving the swift boat!

    March 18, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Grace (Maryland)

    I do not know how much his speech today has changed people's opinion about him, and therefore, I agree with jp/michigan, we are really in a black vs white presidential race. I was afraid this was going to happen.

    March 18, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Tom

    Obama showed he is a great leader. Under all this pressure he remains strong and gives a great speech.

    Thats the kind of guy I would follow.

    March 18, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Tonia

    Being that Obama is a Senator, the moment he himself heard or was told by other members of the church of the sermons that were being given were political in nature he should have left the church then and there! It is illegal for subject of this nature to be taught in non-profit churchs and SENATOR OBAMA knows this law, he can't deny that.He sat by while this man broke the LAW. That is poor judgement!!!!!!
    I would like to know how he can explain that.

    March 18, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Ronique

    In a society that is so racially and ethnically polarized, we need to have someone like Obama who is able to not only cross but transend those divisions and make us whole. GO Obama!!! I hope that narrow mindedness does not allow this moment in time to slip away from us.

    March 18, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Jake

    what is all the big deal about that pastor any way? everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What the pastor said isnt a reflection of Obama's beliefs, why are people bashing him on this? It's crazy. What more do you want the man to do? He's already denounced, rejected, spoke out against it. Jesus christ, grow up.

    March 18, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. greg

    Well as the Reverand Wright would say "It looks like Obama's chickens have come home to roost".

    March 18, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Jessica, MI

    WF – you couldn't be more right.

    Obama's greatest battle from here on out will be against the stupidity of people who draw incredibly strong opinions without taking a mere few minutes to examine underlying facts.

    March 18, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Serge the DEM

    Great speech. He told it straight. No BS. He addressed the racial issues that were plagueing us to this day in a candid and empathic manner. And after completely denouncing his pastor's comments, he still stood by him... A STAND UP GUY.

    What a Leader!

    Go OBAMA!

    America needs you!

    March 18, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Chris-Seattle

    I think any of you out there that think Wright is far fetched on his concepts and perceptions are shallow! I was just readin a piece on the Tuskegee Experiments this morning! Congress has finally admitted that it was wrong they way they penalized some for drug related crimes and other not all. I worked in the airline industry for several years and I hate to tell you this but you idiots are placing your lives in the hands of coke heads everyday you fly. America is indeed a beautiful place but we seem to want to sugar coat our shortcomings as if they'll go away somehow! You buttheads can hate all you want but the rug is getting full and we all need to come clean about reality!

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Vig

    Here's my dilemma with Obama: He does come across as somewhat transparent and says things that sound sincere and contemporary in terms of personal meanings. Yet, when he says that he has never heard Wright say anything racist, I don't believe that. I think he is lying and so he has loyalty to Wright. I just thought his speech was superficial and placating, not to mention self-serving.

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Bruce Balderston

    First, it was, 'I was never present when Reverend Wright said those controversial things" Then the big speech, 'Yes I was present for controversial statements, but he (Rev. Wright) had reasons for his statements.
    Words count except when they reflect badly on me is what Obama wants to buy.
    Frankly, I think I'll vote for Medvedev.

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. gloria

    He has lied several times, so when do you know if he is telling the truth. Is he trying to appease the ministers of the churches as well as the african american? If so he is being delusional if he thinks that they will buy this.

    I am not saying that he is not a great orator, but words alone will not get him the nomination for President of The United States.

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. MLH

    How do you spell erudite? -OBAMA

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Lauren

    am i missing something? how does this make obama a liar?

    March 18, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. leon

    I think the Democratic Party should get this man off the ticke for President. This Daming our country. And cursing God is unreal for a man to stand up and run for President.
    He is lying through his teeth , to try to defend his self. Come on American people , We are the greatest lets keep it that way.
    Lets don't take a chance of Daming our Country. For heaven sakes no way should we curse God.

    March 18, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. skol

    Obama's speech was honest, heartfelt, intelligent, and on the mark. Clearly this man has the potential to lead this country in a way that can break the formulaic stalemates of the past. It is sad to read many of the negative posts that only reinforce the reality of where we are and how far we need to go.

    March 18, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. drmarte

    Obviously there are people waiting to pounce on these posts to say the same old things they've always said and spew vitriol wherever they can, demonstrating an inability to ingest and digest new or different information that might change an open mind - a clear marker of the ignorance that has shrouded our politics for generations. In fact, this is what Sen. Obama was tackling head on in one of the most inspirational, historic speeches any of us will ever hear in our lifetime, if our past history with hyperbolic partisan politics is any indication (and I think it is).

    March 18, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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