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. PG

    Enough already!!!! Obama made no speeches with his pastor's words. I am glad he did not disown Rev. Wright. We are all multidimensional and I don't know what all the hoopla is about. Wright's is a social gospel. The comments you all continue to play have been heard in some form by many African American worshippers. Wish I had more time and space to delve into each.

    Report some REALnews and STOP setting this hypocritical agenda. I have not heard one word about Ron Parsley nor Hagee. Give me a break!

    The sad truth is Obama has opened his soul...and in your news coverage..it will still not be enough. African Americans don't hop churches as much because we are tied to our churches by many things and not just the sermons but the other teachings as well. We are tied by the doing of HIS will and not just sermons.

    America is in a defining moment for a whole new generation. My prayer is we don't mess it up! Great treatment of the subject Barack!!

    March 18, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. SPQR753

    A candidate who is unwilling to part ways FOREVER with a fanatic and racist "pastor" IS NOT FIT to reside at the WHITE HOUSE.

    March 18, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Bill

    Great speaker or perhaps a great speech writer. Change, what change and exactly how? He wants to transend this race business but seems he is more bent on using the race card and clearly causing more division.

    He has shown he no different then any other politician and has been caught in his lies, from Rezko to even lying on Friday when he said he never heard Rev Wright's ghateful sermons now he admits he has.

    March 18, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. chris

    How about saying what a great speech it was Wolf?

    March 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. s.b.

    When was the last time Americans elected a President for giving a speech criticizing the US Constitution and the founding of the nation?

    Just wondering?

    March 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Diane

    I am a white woman Methodist who goes to church at least weekly and am deeply involved in the activities of my church. I must say that there are several things my pastor does that I do not like and would not do in my home; there are some things I disagree with on the demoninations beliefs. However, the core of my religious beliefs are followed and so I enjoy it. The service that the church does for the poor, ill, etc. are so great that I can overlook the other problems and still attend and feel good about it. I can easily see where Mr Obama is in the same category. He appears intelligent enough to rise above what his minister says and filter what he believes religiously.

    March 18, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Elizabeth

    I was profoundly moved by the speech on race given today by Barack Obama. I felt shivers up and down my spine and tears well up in my eyes. I once heard it asked if any great leaders (minds) would rise up in my generation. Today for the first time I realized it was Barrack Obama. He is my MLK. He is to be the unifier of all our great, but imperfect, nation's generations. I'm now so happy that this all came out about Reverend Write or we might have never had this conversation.

    March 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. Raum

    This isn't just about Wright, but this is about the bigger picture. This truly is what America is at its core.

    You can nit-pick all you want this speech, but this man took the chance to do something many viewed as risky and career ending. Instead, although risky, it turned out to be a pivotal point in not only this election but in American history.

    It doesn't matter who you support to appreciate this speech. I encourage all of you to watch the whole speech and not just snippets.

    God Bless America.

    March 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Liza

    Wow! I did not hear the speech but read enough parts to know that this must be written into American history. He hit the points I was concerned about and I am willing to continue to support his campaign. If he does not win the primary he has cleared his good name and that of his pastor...for me. The Clintons do not have my support nor will they as we move forward to the general elections.

    March 18, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. King

    After listining to Barak Obama`s speach all I can say is that the best is yet to come out of him. He is faced with a very serious insure and he is facing it head on. I believe this is how he will face the chalenge of presidency. He is equal to the task. A daniel has come to judgment. Thanks be to God almighty, For the new President -elect to be.

    March 18, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. lamptay oriakhi

    there is no better way to salvage an ailing situation...i think obama did well and boldly too...moreover, i think the hand of God is already moving America to a new direction with respect the underlying issues as racism....weather obama wins or not, this speech is powerful enough to make Americans look inwards, jump-stating a fresh mindset on the idea of racism because truly that which unites the nation is stronger than what divides it....God bless America

    lamptay oriakhi (Nigerian)
    madrid

    March 18, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. Lesly Rene

    Obama speech was brillant. Obama is at this time in our society ,the right man now to preside our country in a very difficult time.Obama is the best man to lead a country ,where foreign policies ,fells apart. American people need a man of his judgement to guide us. White,Black,Spanish, Asians ,and etc.. must come together. American people, Yes,We can.

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

    This isn't just about Wright, but this is about the bigger picture. This truly is what America is at its core.

    You can nit-pick all you want this speech, but this man took the chance to do something many viewed as risky and career ending. Instead, although risky, it turned out to be a pivotal point in not only this election but in American history.

    It doesn't matter who you support to appreciate this speech. I encourage all of you to watch the whole speech and not just snippets.

    God Bless America.

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

    It was a very poor speech, not from the heart but from the writers. The simple fact 20 years, good friend, his faith adviser can not just start saying you don't like what he said.. PLEASE!!!

    Obama Where are all your TAX records? I see one 2006!

    Why did you give over $25,000 in 2006 alone to your church if you dont agree with what he said...

    Obama its over drop out now, we need a American who loves the country as the prez not some hate-filled speech maker...

    March 18, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. PG

    Great speech! I trust Senator Obama, I believe in what he says. I really think what he said this morning came from the heart. I can honestly say that I do not feel the same way about Senator Clinton. That scares me...I'm starting to think she will do ANYTHING to get the nomination. That is bad for America!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Alexandra

    JP/MICHIGAN get a life please.

    Obama we are poroud of you.
    You did a great, couragous job.
    God bless you Obama

    March 18, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Nobillary Andobama

    This incessant liberal bickering over whether Obama is racist is moot. The Rev. Wright does not speak for Obama and he made clear he doesn't endorse that message....

    What is relevant is whether or not Obama is fit to hold the highest office in the land...and the answer is clearly NO!

    I am begging this guy to say something substantive from a foreign policy and National Security Strategy point of view.

    He is very good at looking pretty and making a rousing speech and sprinkling the words "Change" and "Hope" into these speeches....but when you start to peel the onion back there are absolutely no concrete solutions to the issues America faces other than what ever Bush did was wrong.

    What experience does this guy have when it comes to dealing with the persistent threat of Islamic terrorists? A two day trip to Iraq and another trip to Africa??? Has he ever served in a position of great responsibility in the Armed Forces or State Department??? Does serving 3 years on the Senate Foreign Relations committee qualify as significant experience???

    Where is the substance?

    "HOPE" is not a method....only a nice sound bite!

    March 18, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Dawn Nance

    I have tried to bring this issue of race and Obama to light. Here in IL, we can no longer place the Confederate Flag on graves of Confederate Soldiers at National Cemeteries thanks to Obama and Durbin. We must get beyond this division. The Confedrate Flag was not fought and died for over slavery. The first shots were not fired over slavery. The race issue that Obama has " no problem with, and all freedoms should be honored" needs addressed. The soldiers that died and fought for this country and their families should have the freedom to place a Confederate Flag on a gravesite or memorial.
    Thank You.
    Pawnee, IL 62558

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. An Agnostic Democrat

    No Wolf, you have a fine line to walk. That is the one where you decide on a moment-to-moment basis how far up Hillary's backside you'd like to place your brown nose on any given day.

    It's reporters and tabloid journalists like you that give the mainstream media the piss-poor reputation it deserves. When can we expect some real news now that you and all your collegues have avoided reporting the real news since George Bush took office and beforehand for that matter?

    You are all complicit in getting us into Iraq and now you need to report the truth about the conditions on the ground and getting us out. Please stop with the spin the Bush/ McCain administration continues to try and sell. You all bought the spin and manipulation during the last Clinton administration, too!

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Richard McCall

    I think Barack Obama gave us a very important lesson in history today. Since most of us are not black, are not descendents of slaves, and do not suffer even subtle incidents of discrimation on a daily basis, I think it is difficult to place ourselves in these shoes. . Barack Obama spoke truth with courage today and reminded us that we all have a way to travel on that road to freedom until we throw off the shackles of intolerance and bigory. that stand in the way of achieving the great promise of an America. and people united as one.

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Chris Lockhart

    I am disturbed by the level of negative attacks leveled at Senator Obama. I am not naive to the process, but there is the feeling that a lot of these questions and issues about race are being initiated by the Clinton campaign. Usually these types of attacks are reserved for cross party confrontations, not in-party. Including the comments about McCain being "more ready" than Obama to be Commander-In-Chief. I think that Senator Obama has shown great restraint and character. He has tried to stay above the fray while still responding as needed as a national candidate figure. Either people will decide they are not ready for such a large change in politics, or they will decide they can no longer live without some great change. I am of the later.

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Amanda, Phoenix

    This quote is interesting...

    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

    I would have said the exact opposite – that CNN is obviously baised towards Obama!

    Hillary 08!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. April in Texas

    I admire him for addressing this issue as it is very real in our nation. I plan on personally making it a goal to not be so judgemental and to think before I react even more than I have in the past.

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. Dean Ramser

    I applaud CNN and Lou Dobbs for airing the political and social friction that Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermons haven created. It has been a long time since Reconstruction failed, and even a longer span since Africans were brought to America by force. It was only a short time ago that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, and recent statistics reveal that Americans are attempting to cross the hate that divided this country for so long. I applaud Lou Dobbs for sharing his amnesia over the intense discrimination that has forged the paradigm that make it difficult, though not impossible, for “people of color” to transcend the barriers to what the US Constitution states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    -Dean Ramser, teacher

    March 18, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Richard

    Obama is going to be one of our greatest presidents, and anyone who does not take part in electing him should be ashamed to call themselves american

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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