March 18th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
6 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. John B Sheffield

    Barack Obama spoke Straight from the Heart with this morning's speech, he answered all points that needed to be approached, many of the attacks unjustified in the opinion of many voters. Barack didn't a script writer or to read from a script, he truly looked a possible President that at the end of the day Unite the USA.

    The Democratic Party are the ones who need to make a quick decision, do they allow the advisers behind Hilary to continue damaging The Party with this negative campaign, the answer should be NO! – Any Candidate Nomination Race should be on Policy and not throwing constant attacks just hoping some will stick to destroy the other candidate.

    March 18, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Andrea

    Wolf, just to correct you, pre-emptive measures would have been to address this issue before it was broken by the press. Instead Obama lied about the fact that he heard Wright deliver such speeches over the last twenty years, and then later today admitted he had in fact been present when controversial statements were made.

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

    well i still think he should get his children out of that church croupting there mind to such raciest and pregidest things is not unity unless they the church has adiffrent defanition for that also

    March 18, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Patrick, Indianapolis

    Obama did exactly what he needed to do. The only people who will rail against Obama and this speech are people who will hate and refuse to support Obama no matter what. Obama haters were only looking for whatever they could find to prove that their hatred of Obama is justified. None of them even made an attempt to listen to what was said. I believe this speech will have a postive impact on the majority of Americans that are open-minded and willing to listen to what was said. The only people who will pan the speech are people who already hate Obama and are too close-minded to learn a different point of view.

    March 18, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. seektruth

    He is our leader who touch heart and soul of America, he make best out of us and heal us within ourself. he is able to lead by unites us and our common good . American can't offer to lose him. God bless all of us and open our heart to recognize a leader who has judgment in his mind and love in his big heart we need at crisis of our time.

    March 18, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Damien River

    Wolf !!! I don't buy it. Even when he needed to reunite the country he's talking about Geraldine Ferraro's comments. Then he says he cannot abandon his minister; why??? he's not a blood relative but he's a person he choose to align with and still continues to.

    I am ready to take my vote back.

    March 18, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. democracy?

    while many people see the judgement problem that Obama had or has, I also see a more serious issue of lack of leadership and ability (or maybe willingness).

    Sitting the pew for 20 years, listening to the hatred uttered toward the country he claims he loves, but doing nothing to help make change. He hasn't done anything to help change how his community see the white America (even though he knows they had a distorted view), to tell his pastor that what was said, even out of good intension or understandable, is in fact doing harm to the black community and to the rest of this country. Yes, he said, "I disagreed". Then what?

    Obama hasn't done anything in the past 20 years to make changes to his own community in this aspect, how can he deliver the changes he promises? He did nothing to help unify black and white in his church in the past 20 years, how can we believe he can do it now?

    March 18, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Laura

    There is more to be known about Mr. Obama. All of the candidates have a great vision for this country. Mr. Obama has a long way to go to prove he can be the leader of this great country.

    March 18, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. daniel dbe

    great speech, very real and human. OBAMA 08

    March 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Karen P

    As an Obama supporter, I've always trusted he would do the right thing. I had no doubt that he would address the issue of race as eloquently as he has on other issues.

    I think this country should stop being "petty" and move on. I wish people would not worry about a church they don't know (just like Romney's Mormon faith) and stop worrying about race since Obama is both white and black.

    With all the immense problems in this country, I am glad Obama addressed the issue of division in this country and now we must move on to unite, which is his greatest wish.

    March 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. Chris

    Obama sounded really good in the speech. Hopefully this will end the petty bickering over what some idiot said in church. I really hope americans will stop listening to Fox News and worry about the issues, like how John McCain wants to keep the tax cuts AND stay in Iraq. That is why were in this mess in the first place, Johnny-boy!!!

    Hillary 08'

    March 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Eric

    We realized that he lied to the Americans when he said he knew nothing about the racial comments. He admitted today that he was aware of such comments. He also seemed to play the victim in his speech. Even after his speech, I still can't imagine anyone being asquainted with such a hate filled individual and enduring his statements. The only thing I think of is that he must have felt comfortable listening to Wright's sermons, which should make everyone feel uncomfortable nominating him as a presidental candidate. He should step down now and work to reform his church.

    March 18, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. skh4450IL

    The only fallout will come from the people who heard/read the speech and don't want to move on, those that didn't hear the speech, those that didn't read the speech.

    Thank you! Sen. Obama.

    OBAMA '08

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. SHAPEARL -CHICAGO

    Wolf,
    Why is CNN becoming as negative and bias and Fox News? This speech spoke "truth to power". It created a open dialog for blacks and white to come out to speak on the issue of race. The reality is both sides where correct in this battle. Blacks need to release the angry from the past and whites need to acknowledge the pain that was inflicted on African-Americans in this country. His goal in his speech is to unite the country not on racial lines but on common issues. So the media can spin it one way or the other, hopefully it will spin towards uniting the country instead of making more tabloids topics that anger and hurt America's true progress in this country.

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Cha Cha

    I think It was a very brave and honorable and noble thing Obama did today. This is the kind of person our country so desperately needs right now.Now if the news media will allow him to get on with this election campaigne we the people would appreciate it. Why is the media allowed to shove their ideas down our throat, isn't it there job to report the news, who made them judge and jury? Give us all a break would you.Our country is in allot of trouble that is our worry can we be allowed to focus on that!!

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. V Independent

    It all comes out in the laundry folks. One's believe does influence one's life and that includes the political part of life.

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Grif

    There's some people, no matter how they try to explain..

    Can't.... Been hidden it to long... Too late now....

    He is not applying for just any old job..

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Noah Stephenson

    i guess you are not capable of even mentioning what over 2/3 of the speech was about? That of racial unity in the United State? Does that not factor into your analysis?

    That speech is easily the most profound and moving speech I have ever heard. Why is there no mention of the oratory or the historic nature of the speech itself?

    Lately, it seems CNN is only interested in perpetuating the Democratic race out of concern for advertising revenue. FIrst you trashed Clinton now you're trashing Obama. Will you only be satisfied when the race goes to Denver? ooh...but you will make lots of money off it won't you? Sometimes I wish there was more choice than CNN and Fox News.

    Shame on you for abdicating your duties as a journalist to report the news as it is, NOT as you wish it to be to perpetuate a race out of greedy self-interest!

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. Eric

    Correction:

    We realized that he lied to the Americans when he said he knew nothing about the racial comments. He admitted today that he was aware of such comments. He also seemed to play the victim in his speech. Even after his speech, I still can't imagine anyone being acquainted with such a hate filled individual and enduring his statements. The only thing I think of is that he must have felt comfortable listening to Wright's sermons, which should make everyone feel uncomfortable nominating him as a presidental candidate. He should step down now and work to reform his church.

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. beans in Belize C.A

    I think he addressed the issue very well, let see what else they will try to pin on him.

    Stand strong Barack and Keep it up, you will overcome.

    Obama '08 Now!!!

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Uncle Sam

    What concerns me most about the Wright controversy is not so much the possible alignment of their viewpoints, as is the fact that we have little else on which to evaluate his candidacy.

    March 18, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. marilyn lane

    Following Mr. Obama's speech, reporter Heidi Collins asked the question, should Mr. Obama have left and changed his church after hearing offensive statements by Rev. Wright? My question back is should we citizens who have heard offensive words and remarks, from the current administration, mean we should leave America and move to another country?

    March 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Marsha

    People do not respond to this blog or any negative bias blogs on any of the candidates! We need to move forward! It is now about evil versus good more so than black versus white. The good people of this country both black, white, brown are being held back by the evil. The devil will not win! T his blog is more about infusing evilness from the many evil of this country. We shall start a revolt against evilness in this country.

    March 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. jkk

    At heart of all this is Obama's candidacy and he just prove to us that he can handle crisis calmly under pressure. lt's true that he cannot disown his pastor more than he can disown even the color of his skin. What should come out of this is, how is he able to withstand the onslaught of questions and cycism that surround his ability to handle though situations. Overall, he did what he had to do brilliantly as would be demanded from the coomander in chief.

    March 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Kate

    Wolf, thanks for a fair piece. It's refreshing in the blogosphere these days.

    Obama did exactly what he had to do; now I hope voters listen to or read his speech IN ITS ENTIRETY instead of relying on carefully-spun clips. Only then can voters make a wise and informed choice when they go to the polls.

    March 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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