March 18th, 2008
03:15 PM ET
7 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. Arnold

    Honestly though, the views of Reverand Wright are a huge revelation. This is the guy Obama let advise him for 20 years?! Haven't we learned from Bush that bad advisors lead to awful and permanent damage to everyone concerned?? That guy is racist, that guy hates America, and that guy has Obama's unwaivering trust and confidence! Obama says he wasn't at this speech or that speech, but it's not like the guy changed his core values or his central message for those days of Obama's absence. After 20 years and a close personal friendship, you know where a guy stands and apparently you stand there too.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Sue

    The media has done an absolutely horrible job of finding out what this smooth talking con man Obama is all about. Now the Democratic Party is more than likely stuck with this person who attended an anti-American, racist church for over 20 years as their nominee. You can't tell me that the media wasn't aware of all this for quite some time. You were so busy fawning all over him and trashing Hillary, that you lost your journalistic integrety. Now we can look forward to another Republican President for the next four years.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. manny t

    race will really make us look bad, looking that this country and this election I upset to even call myself an american its a sad day in america when we can't all get along. We are no better than the rest of the world and that proof if obama is not president a racial dived country. we will never be united and never be strong. Its up to us amarica lets show the world that we are a powerful and united country not black and white vote obama 08
    Yes We Can!!!

    Obama 08

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

    I can't get there with Obama, He sat under a minister that disgraced America with his words and with family who spreads hate, it's a disgrace and dishonor. Obama as President, just can't get there knowing his behavior patterns and beleifs are influenced by this family memeber.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Jim, American in Paris

    Just wait and see, Barak Obama will get away with another close call, just the way he has gotten away with not counting the primaries in Florida and Michigan etc....!

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. Shannon McMurphy

    Good grief. If anyone thinks CNN is pro-Clinton, they haven't been watching.

    Obama's speech is the same old rhetoric I expected. If anyone plays the race card, it's him.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Lyle Johnson

    As a lifelong republican watching the speech, I was very impressed. My wife, attaining US citizenship only two years ago, was also impressed.

    Our mutual reaction was that Senator Obama responded to this episode as a statesman rather than a politician. Instead of "cut and run" he chose to face the issue of race in America in one of the most balanced ways I have heard in a very long time.

    I applaud him.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. John

    And as usual, we heard more lies from him. He said before that he had never heard Wright say anything bad. But now all of a sudden he has? What else has he lied about? Today he showed that he is racist, for still standing by his racist preacher. He says that he hasn't played the race card, which he was doing today in his speaking.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. darryl

    wait for the fall out? our hope for the fall out. you people in the press do a great job of wording a heading line or just using part of a comment to create a story. why does there have to be fall out. maybe just maybe for the first time we can have a conversation about what is right and wrong with this country. but that would not a make a good news story.
    AMERICAN PEOPLE BEGIN TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. arvind chhabra

    How come after claiming untill yesterday that he never heard anything objectionable from wright`s mouth, today he says that infact he did. Why sweet music frm his mouth when challenged is accepted as mistake later. Thus guy is full of lies. Cant see ahy media still loves his lies. Do journalist forget that in democracy they have some duty i.e. to follow the truth and avoid deceptions and help people make rigt choice and avoid deceptions for the betterment of democracy and the future of the country. GOD BLESS AMERICA!! EVEN NOW IF SOME JOURNALISTS THINK THIS GUY HAS CREDIBILITY LEFT TO BECOME THE PRESIDENT THEN GOD SAVE AMERICA, COZ THEN HIS PASTORS CHICKENS WILL DEFINITLY COMING TO HOME TO ROOST!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!PLEASEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Stella

    Now that he has made this speech, can we move on to the more important issues facing our country: the economy, jobs, healthcare, education, immigration, Iraq, etc?

    I have attended my parents' church on several occasions – a predominately white "Christian" church – and have heard anti-homosexual comments from the pulpit that it is no wonder they are still being discriminated against. I have heard the pastor there preach about how this country will continue to deteriorate unless Jesus is accepted by all and we becoma a "Christian" nation. So let's be honest here, messages similiar to Rev. Wright's are being heard in church's on both sides of the aisle.

    It's time to get back to discussing the issues that the next President, not Pastor, will have to tackle.

    March 18, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. D in MA

    I wasn't impressed w/ today's speech. He basically said "lets get along"...Well, I do get along...I just disagree w/ him. He did nothing to convince me that his health care plan was better. It's okay to disagree...this is America right? I don't agree with what his pastor said, especially since he said it from the pulpit, and i wasn't won over by this over-hyped speech today. Distancing yourself from a long time mentor is not equivalent to turning your back on the whole black community. This speech today was not about real unity, or about any real issues.
    The problem is not about race... it's about Obama's inability to live up to the hype... The same problem he's had all along.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. Obama Nation

    I respect Senator Obama, but I am not voting for him. I am very upset at the way the media seems to tip-toe around him. If this was McCain's or Clinton's church we would have to scalp tickets to get on the bandwagon to ... oh I can't say that.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. vj

    obama is a liar.he is just deceiving Americans.they have a hidden agenda.Americans need to wake up real fast.he doesnt love this country as Clinton and Mc Cain does.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Greg

    You call that pre-emptive action? Your comment ranks up there with the one about the Clinton campaign reminding people Obama is black. The media and Obama should have taken on the race issue before South Carolina voted. Avoiding the issue was dumb. Why would any sane white person vote fo Obama when someone so close to him spits hate about white people? The Clintons and many other democrats get called n-lovers then have guys like the reverend preaching that the Clintons are racially insensitive.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Jack

    Obama! Obama! Obama!
    He gets the truth head-on.
    We expect the economy and security the same after Bush-McCain is over!

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Texas

    He hit a home run Wolf.....Home run.

    No matter what happens...He has secured his place with america.

    As a african american I'll say this...if they thought we were voting for him before this.....watch the lines now. And if he's not the nominee...Hillary will need many more latino and white women voters then she really knows about to win the white house.

    Sad but true....blacks will feel left out this process if he's shut out and a lot will not vote in November because of it.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Desdemondo

    Sorry Mr. Obamas speech disappointed you Wolf. Ha! Ha!

    He hit the ball out of the park – much more than your scheeming Billary could do.

    Yes we can. Obama 08.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Yo are as much a left winger as Obama is. You suger coat it all if it is the Dems talking and rake the GOP over the coals.

    Why don't you report the news not your personal opinion. This is why I do not watch your news show.

    March 18, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Lee From Treasure Island Florida

    Wolfe, you were one who Obama was talking today. You can continue
    or you can yourself look at your mirror and be as open and honest as Obama was. Maybe you are harboring some bent up feelings that need to be dealt with...but not pushed on to the American people?

    March 18, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Brooke

    I think he said what needed to be said. The media has done this, now no matter what happens people are going to flip this and tweak it to make it about something that it is not. He still has my vote. I think he is a great man, and he make make this country a better place for all Americans.

    March 18, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. mame

    I think Obama is going to be ok.

    March 18, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. Raul

    Sen Obama should have put an end to the race controversy months ago when his camp (together with the MSM) made Pres Clinton a racist in spite of the good things that the Clintons have done for the black community. But no. He fanned that controversy for political expedency. Now he is talking against it because it already served his purpose. 90% of the black population now supports him.

    March 18, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Darth Vadik, CA

    ....AND HOW COME IT IS OK FOR JERRY FALWELL, AND PAT ROBERTSON AND THE REST OF THESE REVERENDS TO CONDEMN AMERICA FOR ALLOWING GAY TO LIVE HERE, OR CONDEMNING A CITY OF SIN WHICH CAUSED ITS OWN DESTRUCTION BY A HURRICANE.

    WHERE IS THE RIGHT WING OUTRAGE ABOUT AT THAT "UNAMERICAN" TALK?

    WHAT HYPOCRASY, WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP THIS WHOLE DEAL IS.

    March 18, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Maria of Luna --Sacramento, CA

    He knew a year ago this was going to cause trouble for him. So why didn't he just stand up and walk out when Dr. Rev started ranting against America?

    I'd like "do-overs" in all the States, especially now with this information coming to light. I'm sure there are some Obama supporters secoond questioning themselves and this Pied Pipper's motives.

    I guess the proof's in the pudding............

    March 18, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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