March 21st, 2008
11:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Photo shows President Clinton, controversial Obama minister


(CNN) - Barack Obama’s former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, attended a 1998 Clinton White House prayer breakfast, and met former President Bill Clinton – a moment which was documented by official photographers in a photo that surfaced Thursday.

Wright was one of roughly 100 religious leaders invited to the breakfast, which was held in the East Room on September 11, 1998, as part of a series of similar events scheduled that year in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The photograph appeared on "The truth about Trinity United Church of Christ," a blog operated by a church member.

During the breakfast, then-President Clinton told the group that "I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned."

An Obama spokesman declined to comment. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer told CNN, “In the course of his two terms in office, Bill Clinton met with, corresponded with and took pictures with literally tens of thousands of people.

According to White House documents released this week, Hillary Clinton was scheduled to attend the event as well.

The Obama campaign has struggled to re-gain its footing following the controversy over racially-charged comments by the Illinois senator’s former minister. Earlier this week, Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia that was meant to clarify his opposition to the substance of Wright’s remarks, as well as his views on racial division in America.

The Clinton campaign has largely steered clear of public criticism of Obama over the incident, though some current and former campaign surrogates have suggested the fact that the senator did not dissociate himself sooner might raise questions about his judgment.

–CNN's Steve Brusk and Rebeca Sinderbrand

soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. No More Pillows

    This is stupid. It looks like a long line waiting to shake Clinton's hand. Big difference between shaking hands with 1 out of 100 preachers for five seconds and listening to a racist sermon for twenty years.

    March 21, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. matt

    umm, it just wasn't a picture, he was invited. So it seems the Clintons had some type of respect for the guy. Or maybe it was just bad judgement (sarcasm).

    March 21, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  3. bernice

    ohhh the Clintons.

    March 21, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. Susan

    That is too funny! Guess it just goes to show that even the Clintons at one point thought of him as a respected clergyman. He couldn't have been at that event unless he was specifically invited. Too bad they didn't point this out when Obama was getting bashed by everyone for his respect of Wright's spiritualism while acknowledging that he strongly disagreed with the remarks that were widely publicized. Its time for everyone to move past this and get back to the real issues affecting this country.

    March 21, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Mandi Locke

    Although I do not think this is necessarily important, I do think the Clintons are walking a tight rope when it comes to race relations. Notice nothing was said about Rev. Wright until after a majority of black voters had already gone to the polls.

    March 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. Nathan,

    Is this a desperate joke or what from the Obama amateurs. How many ministers have their picture taken with Bill Clinton. This was actually taken 10 years ago before a lot of the controversial statements were made. If Obama wanted to get this out of the news I couldn't think of a dumber way of doing it. Although I feel the controversial is way over blown is he really trying to compare a photo op to 20 years by saying "see Clinton knows him too. This photograph Obama has put out is stupid.

    March 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. Chrissy, TX

    And. President Clinton did not have a 20yr relationship with this hate filled hypocrite pastor like Obama and continues to do so. This was just a photo that pastor "hypocrite" Wright took with President Clinton at a function. Look who's stooping to low tactics now. Once again the Obama campaign is trying to divert the real issue off of Obama's continued relationship with this hate filled pastor. Obama went as far as betraying his own blood, his grandmother to justify his hate filled pastor.

    March 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. Becky in In.

    Soooooooooo he shook his hand he didn't sit for 20 years and listen to him spew his vile hate like Obama did. I am from Indiana and I will take such pleasure in voting for Hillary.

    March 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. Evonne Parkins

    Again CNN, Who Cares. How many non stories do you have to run?
    What happened to the News? Anything to mention Monica over and over again. Guess what that is so over.

    March 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. D.D.

    " He without sin cast the first stone."
    To place Dr. Wtight with President Bill Clinton at The White House with Hillary in THAT room for prayer after the Monica engagement.

    March 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Common Sense

    There is a whole lotta hate everywhere....Turns up whe you least expect or hope for it....

    What are we gonna do?

    Swim in the Hate or move on to a new clean fresh pool?

    What Ya'll want to do?

    March 21, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. Reatte Beaumont, Texas

    What up with that?????? Could they have paid the pastor to shame the Obama campaign??????????? Smells and looks fishy to me

    March 21, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Todd in Delaware


    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Hillary'08

    OK, CNN. It's high time you went back to coverage of real news. I am sick and tired with your "news team"....

    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. Observer

    President Clinton did not attend Reverend Wright church for 20 years as Senator Obama did - that makes a difference. There was not enough time for Rev. Wright to preach his hate toward the United States of America.

    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. B

    Mrs. Clinton - Shhhh... THEN PRESIDENT Clinton meeting with this man. Nuff said...

    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. ch

    Wow – talk about desperation on the part of the Obama campaign. Are they really trying to compare a photo op with a 20 year relationship? Jeremiah Wright is Obama’s problem – not Bill Clintons.

    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. The truth shall set you free!

    The Clinton's have quite a history with another of Obama's contributors....tony rezko.

    March 21, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. Human

    Can we see a photo of the American children that go to bed hungry every night? A photo of our men and women still serving in a war?
    A photo of our economy trying to stay afloat? A photo of our educational system continuously falling in international rankings?

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  20. Adam Sawyer

    So what! The president took photos with thousands of people, are we really that surprised he took a photo with Wright? Wright is Obama's minister, and spiritual counselor for 20 years. That's a big difference!

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. michael, ny

    Granted, this guy had a mistesp, but one should not discount all of his contributions to this nation.

    Hillary, was he your spiritual counselor too?

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. Dave

    Did Bill join his church?
    Was he Bill's "spiritual mentor" for 20 years?

    Nice try Obama campaign...

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. Media Cut and Paste

    I actually was able to hear a few sermons in Full of Rev Wrights and was shocked as to how the media found probably 4 phrases he used and strung them together to present what they did to the public. The sermons I heard truly spoke about God and Unity. As I said I was shocked! I now have a new opinion of this man. youtube may have them.
    Now mind you those statements we heard we're Horrid and I have no idea what came over him, but there is a bigger picture.

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. gailb

    Interesting. How come Mrs. Clinton never knew what was going on in the White House during her "co-presidency"? She didn't do her background on Iraq and she didn't do her background on this either. This is why she stayed quiet.

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. mndharmas

    Picture is worth a thousand words

    March 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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