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. Ami

    So what? I'm sure there have been plenty of controversial figures in the White House...besides some of our Presidents!

    March 21, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Rev.

    Let's see how much press coverage this will receive! I bet it won't be as much press coverage as the Obama situation. Personally, let's see my comments will make the blog site! LET'S SEE!

    March 21, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Roy

    What is the point? The new president has also to be able talk with anybody!

    March 21, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Maria

    Why aren't we reading about Obama's remarks yesterday.......about his grandmother being a "typical white person"????

    March 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Jackie, Houston Tx

    Obama does not own J. Wright.

    March 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Sam

    Maybe this will prove that almost all of democrats are misguided and some have taken it so far that they hate everything about America.

    March 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. Piper - Nebraska

    Explains why Senator Clinton was silent on the issue.

    March 21, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. kelly


    March 21, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. TellItLikeItIs

    Uh oh, that's not good. I bet 10-1 that the Clinton supporters come in and say that it's no big deal or find some way to side step this by blatanly attacking Obama on some type of uninformed nonsense.

    March 21, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Sad

    And this means................? What a terribly juvenile and clumsy attempt to justify Obama's relationship with the pastor. Besides that couldn't be Bill Clinton because he's over 60, I believe and according to Obama, all the elderly white people in this world are scared of black men. Keep on digging that hole folks.

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. Ed

    Please cnn get real Clinton did not attend the church for 20 years Obama did. How can you sit through 20 years of the garbage we hear about that church

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. Tom, Iowa

    Can we please move beyond this? 4,000 troops are dead in Iraq. The economy is tanking like never before. Just say to yourself out loud what the Rev. Wright situation is. We are arguing about things said years ago by someone connected to the Obama campaign. Things that he had every right to say because this is America. If you're unclear about that, speak Spanish in front of someone, they will quickly remind you.

    Rev. Wright was stating his opinion. Just as I am stating mine. Just as you are stating yours. Just because they don't line-up doesn't mean you can't say it. This is small and petty. We need to be talking about the bigger issues. Kudos to McCain and Barack for trying to stay on message. Shame on Hillary for trying to drag down the election. Shame on CNN for trying to balance the campaigns in order to prolong in the nomination in the interest of ratings.

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Obamista NYC

    Now all of you Obama haters are goig to jump ship and run to McCain?

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Kathy, Andover

    Now we know the real reason Hillary has "no comment"

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. CL OT

    How could Bill shake this guys hand after what he said about him.

    March 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. DC gal

    ...and why do we care? I'm not quite sure how Obama camp claims to run a clean campaign, yet they want to make news out of this? Give me a break!

    No matter who you vote for, just please realize that Obama too is nothing more than a politician like the rest!

    March 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. Ernie

    Where is the note Bill sent to Rev. Wright thanking him for his supportive remarks at this sad time for the Clintons?. The NYT on line has this and more.

    March 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. Brandon Chicago

    Just another Black man looking for a hand out. Now Hillary needs too be more careful who she gets photographed with while in office. Lets get behind the true President . Vote for Hillary 08 .

    March 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. AtomicBetty

    There is a big difference between a photo op and a life-time of devotion. How long will if be before someone dredges up the footage of Obama and family in Rev. Wright's pews while he spews his message of hate?

    March 21, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Dean from Illinois

    So What. Quite trying to make something out of nothing. CNN you have really gone down in your reporting. I used watch CNN and have you as my home page, no more. You have proved this year that you want to sway as many people as possible in the Obama camp and you have do just that. The best political time on TV, my aching backside.

    March 21, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. RL in IL.

    Too late. Barack has shown he is no different than any other politician. He did "CHANGE" his every vote should count line. Illinois did "CHANGE" IT'S primary for HIM.. He did "CHANGE" his story on the Reverend. The bad news the truth didn't come out til after we voted. The good news is there's always November.

    March 21, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Brnman

    There must be more to Rev Wright than the few moments that we have seen on those video clips.

    His good accomplishmets that he has made at his church and in his community to be invited to the White House by Pres Clinton must be outstanding.

    March 21, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. Annamica, OH

    Way to go Obama....grasping at straws aren't you? This is what desperate people do. First he distinguishes his grandmother as a "typical white person" (still waiting for CNN to pick up on that) and now trying to besmirch the former President through a photo.

    March 21, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Rod

    Why am I not suprised?

    March 21, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Independent

    Why does every scandal end resurrection Bill and Monica Lewinsky?

    March 21, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
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