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. mimi de la cruz for OBAMA


    March 18, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. k

    I'm am so confused. 1st he wasn't at the church during the anti america talk by Rev. Wright, now he was. God is number 1, my country is number 2. I've never heard my pastor talk in church, bad about my country.

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

    Obama lied....preiod! He said over the weekend he was not in the pews and then said today he was in the pews. He lied and this is what the media needs to look into.

    March 18, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Jon, Lantana

    OBAMA – Release your tax returns from 2007, and 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, What are you HIDING. Release your full earmark report and not the fluffed up hiding one that you release for 2007 ONLY. Release the earmarks from the 8 years you were in the Illinois Senate. WHAT ARE YOU HIDING.

    March 18, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Eleanor

    hi wolf
    I thought Senator Obama made a very personal speech trying to get
    his points across about his pastor, his ethnic background and the race that still exists under the social facade of America
    I am a caucasian female from Canada and have never experienced
    racism in my life
    It makes me feel badly for Obama that Race has been made such an issue by the media and some bloggers and panels!
    It kind of makes one feel though as though racism is *alive and well*
    in America and thats really sad in my opinion!
    The pastors words and thoughts are NOT Senator Obamas
    he could not have made that more clear!
    If I were an American I would feel *privileged* to vote for Senator
    Obama and not because of his race because of the intelligent
    cool calm and steady man he is with wonderful ideas of change
    and promise!!!Look at the man America NOT his race
    please for a change post my comment!

    March 18, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Ken B.

    Obama embraced Wright's views when he called slavery America's original sin. The Obamas are tucked into Wright's philosophy, they just hide it better most of the time. Like Obama said, "Words matter". He did nothing today to alleviate anyone's existing fears about his mental state. Nice speech, though, if you were willing to just get caught up in the emotion and not listen to the words. That's what he counts on.

    March 18, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. bill in nyc

    i thought he did a very good job...he was honest, sincere, and addressed the issue in a reasonable way, while drawing attention to the important elements of the argument (e.g. Wright's issue wasn't talking about race, the mistake he made was limiting the capacity of people to change, and make it better)...good job overall, i was very surprised...

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. LaVern

    Listened to Obama.s speech. What does the great counytry of America want from this person? BLOOD? As a christian I often remember things my mother told be as she had read the BIBLE through many times, As I watch the things that go on in the world today I feel for my grandkids. Many items in the BIBLE are written in the last book and they remind me of why the world is in the mess it is today. As i will vote republication I would never wish a Clinton on the world today. By the way I am one of the OLDER WHITE women that seem to stream to HC?????

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Jason Burger

    Mr Obama. He will be our next president. He will lead us well, and make things better again. No need to delve into much more. He has spoken from his heart. Folks if you want a government that works for you. I think its him then. I really do. Obama has my vote.

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Judi Rogers

    Obama nor Hillary are responsible for other's comments. We need to realize everyone is personally responsible for our actions and none of us are responsible for the actions or words of others. We need to give these racial issues a rest and move on to more important problems the country is facing.

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Tigga

    There is no doubt that what Rev. Wright 's comments were quite inflammatory, but what Obama has done today is what exactly makes him unique and different. Which is not only to just condem the words of his Reverend, but also address where that anger and bitterness was coming from.
    The fact of the matter is that there still is racial inequality in the United States. And one more thing Obama addresses is that not only does inequality run against the black community but even a certain quote of the white community also feel that some folks destiny is at their own expence.
    So in a nutshell what Obama has done was to depict that there is no such thing realistically as a "black" or" white" problems but that all of us as all wrapped under the same one garment of destiny. After all the war in Iraq is not hurting just black tax payers but all Americans

    Talk about honesty and being real, this is the real deal and I encourage all you blind Hillary supportes and all you sceptics to take a second look at this guy. He could have done the politically correct thing by just wishing and hoping what his Reverend said will just go away, but he didnt. Instead he addressed and braodened it even at the expense of his hurting his political run.This is what I call levelling with the American people.
    Does anybody remember when Jack Kennedy also gave a sweeping speech about his catholic faith? That's is what Obama did and that is what gifted and great leaders do.

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. daniel ca

    as an american who is black and jewish i can understand obamas problems with this race issue. its tough because there is a serious problem. i have black relatives who say things that i don't agree with and the same on my jewish side, but i continue to love them because there family! because of his background obama can understand better than most, he hit it on the head when he said blacks need to stop blaming. i am a rebublican but i trully believe obama could unite this country. people listen to him, that stop and have to take notice and thats what we need a leader who can draw the whole world together! i voted for bush and he could not do it mccain can't either and truth be told hillary because she is a woman arab countries will not respect her. we need to draw the world together!

    March 18, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Tim

    And he did an amazing job.
    Brilliant speech. Perfectly delivered.

    Now, if we could get both candidates to stop playing the race card and get back on the issues, that would be wonderful.

    March 18, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. oswanegan

    I am a young black Obama supporter, who also was deeply worried about not just his race for the presidency, but also his future political aspirations.

    Hearing that speech, made me proud of this country and still what can be achieved... call it a "dreamy" ideal but many that settled and formed this country shared those same feelings. He is a good man, straight-forward, refreshing, and one of the most intriguing figures I have ever witnessed. I will pray for him and if perhaps it all ends, I am proud that he defined his owns terms of how people should judge him and his beliefs. He is more presidential than any president I have witnessed in my short 31 years. God bless and yes we can!

    March 18, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |

    I don't accept what Barack Obama has to say because he talks about what white people did to blacks in the past too much. He does not
    separate himself from his racist pastor at all. He defends him
    and nothing is mentioned about the civil war that was fought to free the slaves. Abraham Lincoln gave his life to free the slaves. No one alive today had anything to do with selling blacks into slavery at all.
    I see where Michele Obama is coming from now. He should not be
    President and he needs to withdraw from the race.

    March 18, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Is that all you heard WOLF?

    It was a great speech and message !!! regardless of the politics.

    cnn is disappointing

    March 18, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Ursula, New Jersey

    Wolf, Obama's speech today was historic. It's a shame that people who were working today will probably not have the opportunity to hear it for themselves. WITHOUT SPIN !!!!! Indeed, he likely contributed to long overdue dialog which may foster clearer racial understanding.

    Our leadership must be honest with us and citizens need to take responsibility for our government and become more honest with ourselves. People REALLY want and are ready for something different.

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Laura Charlotte NC

    Senator Obama's message to all Americans should have been, simply, personal responsibility is at the heart of success.
    All of us have the choice to blame others but in the end that never produces positive results.

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. citizen

    Which of Obama's "truths" do we believe? The one last week where he said he was never present and never heard his pastor's inflammatory remarks or the one today where he said: "Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes…."

    Obama is a liar and a damaged goods!

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. Terry

    For me, this was the best speech I have heard from Barack Obama since he began his campaign. It is awe inspiring to think this man could one day be President. I also think there was a message to the media as the media presents race issues can also be very devisive. Everyone needs to take a look in the mirror. I hope people will take the high road along side Barack Obama.

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Grace

    I think the strength, clarity and brilliance with which Obama has attended to this matter shows his total understanding of the calculus of the American society. It is left for us to either acknowledge the truth of the socio-existential conditions of our society and deal with it.

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Juana Byrd

    How good is Barack Obama's judgment when he marries a women who is not proud
    of our country until he runs for president? He wants to be President but not
    only attends, but contributes to a church whose minister spews vile hatred
    and whose "sermons" look like a hate against whites and America rally.

    How can anyone attend a church for 20 years, be married by the preacher and
    have him baptise his children say he unaware of his preachings. Obama used
    Wright's serman as the title of his book.

    Sen. Obama is a one term state senator and had two years experience as a
    U.S. senator. He has neither the experience nor judgement to be my

    Juana Byrd
    Arlington TX 76006

    March 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Bjoel

    As you said Wolf, he "had no choice." Frankly I wasn't impressed. He said what he had to say. All we get from Senator Obama are speeches. He's been a member of this racist church for 20 years. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words...

    March 18, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. Grace

    Or continue in the status quo

    March 18, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. Ardath

    OBAMA needs to step down. he is a LIAR and got cought. america hater has the nerve to stand in front of our flag all eight of them and blame white people. He needs to go to where ever his pastor is hideing and, stay there.

    March 18, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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