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. Mr. Man

    I think that all the ones the called Mr. Obama a liar. ARE the real racial. And they are really showing the ture colors...... WHite.... and will always be the on color that they will see....

    March 18, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Tiffany

    What Obama did today showed true leadership. Many candidates would have hoped this just went away after a week but he had the courage to stand up and face this issue head on. I don't believe anyone posting here saying they were for Obama but no more, this speech defines exactly why I & many other ARE FOR OBAMA. He is couragous & sticks to his convictions unlike many politicians. Obama will unite this country when he is elected President in November.

    Thank you Senator Obama for trying to bridge this great divide!

    March 18, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. FloridaforHillary

    Obama is a LIAR, I don't trust him either!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. rusty

    Obama's speech on racial issues today will be a preview of what's going to happen in our country when he becomes a president: MORE SPEECHES, NO ACTION. Our economy is in deep,deep trouble and he's still talking about his preacher's angry attacks on America??

    Well after Nov 2008 he can put his pretty speeches into good use – by becoming the new pastor in his church!!!

    HILLARY 08!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. t-bone

    How about FOX, CNN, MSNBC and the Republicans go visit the church and actually spend some time with them and see what they do and what they believe. I bet you will be surprised by loving, kind, and caring they are. I bet some of them have even served in the military and love our country enough to point out where we could improve. You won't be able to produce a good sound bite but at least it won't be ignorant reporting.

    March 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Nikki

    I am a white woman. I watched Obama's speech live and am not quite sure what everyone is complaining about.

    Obama said he would address the issue and he did. He hit it straight on and wasn't afraid to tell us how he felt.

    We are used to Washington lying to us or twisting the truth. At least this man doesn't avoid the pink elephant.

    The race hasn't turned to a black and white issue because of this speech. If you can see or hear, you already know it is black vs. white as well as man vs. woman. It's those of us who can actually know this and still vote for the person instead of the race or gender who are valuable to this country.

    I admire Obama for actually speaking on the issue. He nipped it in the bud and yes, everyone is going to dissect it word for word, but one thing is for sure, Barack Obama is for unity of this country and unity between our country and the world. He is what America needs. If not now, when?

    March 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |

    Obama is a politician with ZERO character and ZERO credibility. His 20+ year relationship with Jeremiah Wright and his lies to try and cover his knowledge about Wright's beliefs and Wright's utter hate from the pulpit is very telling on senator Obama. Obama should resign IMMEDIATELY. He is UNELECTABLE.

    Either Obama NEVER agreed with Wright and did not have the courage to stand up to Wright and leave the church, or he agreed with Wright, and didn't come out until the issue began to hurt him politically.

    Either way, Obama shows a lack of courage and judgment and his actions, or lack thereof, show him to be a politician that is willing to lie. That is a dangerous combination.

    America, reject Obama and his lies. It is obvious he has not told us the truth.

    Vote for Hillary Clinton!

    March 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Beth Johnson

    Oh he sees Wright's views as "distorted", ha? Is that why he can be seen in the pews nodding he head in agreement with Wright? Is that why he's remained a part of that church for 20 plus years? Is that why he considered Wright a "mentor" all these years? Is that why he refuses to pledge allegiance to the flag? Is that why his wife said for the FIRST time she's proud of America? Is that why? Ha?, because they have DIFFERENT views? I THINK NOT.

    Obama just got caught being part of a hate group for 20 years, and now he has to scramble to get some votes back. Not gonna happen. Beat it.

    March 18, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Frank from Bellflower

    Wolf is the reason i stopped watching CNN...stop tossing softballs to your favorites and throwing curveballs at everyone else...Wolf just missed a historic moment...i guess mcsame or hillary were instant messaging him...

    March 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Murry

    Obama gave a great speech. Unfortunately many Americans don't follow the news. They are more likely to watch YouTube and come across Wright's clips over and over again.

    March 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. John in NC

    The speech revealed the kind of leader Obama will be for America. Statesmanlike, steady, thoughtful and caring, Barack Obama showed America what he is made of, "The Right Stuff." This is the kind of person I want answering the phone at 3:00 am in the White House.

    Contrast that with Clinton, who is tearful one moment and in a rage the next, a helpless victim in one situation and "commander in chief" the next. It seems that Clinton is "unsafe at any speed." [Thanks to Ralph Nader for the metaphor].

    March 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Tired of Obama's Lies

    For Obama to say that he never heard of his pastor/uncle's incendiary homilies in 20 years is a bunch of whooey!Does he really think all Americans are stupid?

    March 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. For Hillary 08

    Now I see where hs wifes comments came from. I guess they are too afraid to say it like it is. He lied! He was there in the church obviously his wife was there and his children as well. Fine be proud that he made the speech, but don't forget the fact that he LIED about it. He is going to get eaten alive if he is nominated and the republicans are not going to stop even if he cries race. I hate to say it, but that is politics and how the game is played.

    March 18, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. bE

    It is really hard to believe that you, Mr. Blitzer, and many others cannot hear the truth and the beauty in this most courageous speech. You lost me as your listener. How superficial and ignorant!

    March 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Cynthia Dowdy

    Do the republicians really think we can't see what they are doing??? The American Democrats are prepared to vote for a democrate ...either one it does not matter!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Angela

    After giving this situation that Obama is in a lot of thought...I am perplexed as to how he thought that none of this (Wright's Comments) would come out for public observation. I am surprised by his comments today and shocked that he would deny that he had ever heard any anti-american retorhic from Wright in the past. He has been a member of that church for 20 years...

    He lost my vote.

    March 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Stan

    He addressed nothing. He got caught and tried to patch it and will probably work for dumb voters. I thought his references to Bill Clinton's S. Carolina and Ferarro's recent comments were cheap shots as they are not on the same level. I hope people read between the lines take him for what he is.

    March 18, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Boomer For Change

    Undoubtedly, people who just want to live comfortably in their racism will not hear (or listen) to what Sen. Obama has to matter what. "THERE ARE NONE SO BLIND AS THOSE WHO WILL NOT SEE."

    March 18, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. GW

    He lied? That's all you got out of his speach? He lied? I feel sorry for you. You posters can go back and forth all you want about the Rev. Wright thing....but until you let it go. We will NEVER hear about the real issues. And the majority of the American public wants to hear about the ISSUES!! Maybe some of you don't care that our dollar is almost worthless, or people are losing their homes left and right, or there is no light at the end of the tunnel for this war.....but I DO CARE. And I don't want to continue to turn on the news and see some preacher spewing distorted views, or Ferraro making ignorant statements.....I want to see debates!!! I want to hear about ISSUES and POLICIES!!! When is the media going to start giving the people what they want?

    March 18, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Julius

    Get it straight folks. Barack said that he was present when SOME fiery sermons were made, but not at this particular one. He said then that he disagreed with them. Stop spreading lies that he was there and is a liar. He came and spoke his peace to the people.

    Go Obama!

    March 18, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. PA voter

    GET OUT OF THE RACE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    March 18, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. not enough Obama

    Obama who are you for????????????

    You seam to be denying not to have heard inflammatory remarks and then you said you did (by Pastor Wright).

    March 18, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Obama is a Joke

    I am surprised that people still support Obama...he is a joke!

    March 18, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. sally

    Now that Obama has "bamboozled and hoodwinked " the American people, you think we can have a re vote? Obama proved to be a liar and a hypocrite. He is toast!

    March 18, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Outraged and Disappointed

    It very comical to watch Obama's attempt to appeal to all races and try not to "disown" anybody. The speech was neither historic nor inspirational. He finally did admit he heard his pastor make statements he disagreed with (which contradicts his previous responses). He did not find it necessary to leave the church? That would have been the right thing to do.

    Claudia in Atlanta, GA

    March 18, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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