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. Relle Boston

    Be fare to obama, but that doen not seem likely.

    March 21, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. isis lara

    Someone please tell me ... and why is this relevant?

    March 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Andrea

    This is silly does it really matter? I am an Obama supporter but I feel we are really losing sight of the issues.

    March 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. D.

    So what? Obama camp stop spining. It shows more and more OBama is no different from other politician, He's anything but what he claimed.

    March 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Relle Boston

    The clintons and the bush's are bad for the country.

    March 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Lisa Gross

    This picture shows exactly what many people have been saying about this minister. He has preached many positive sermons and they choose to only report when he went off the script alittle. I don't believe Clinton nor Obama believes what Mr. Wright said in those sermons. We must not judge others and allow them their own experiences and feelings and try to be more understanding like Jesus spoke of!

    March 21, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Linda

    Who cares!!!!!

    I'm judging Hillary on what she says and does. I'm judging Barack on what he says and does. The people they hang out with aren't on the ballot, so let's get back to the candidates themselves.

    March 21, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. David, NJ

    MSNBC is doing a great job with this story as they mentioned Hillary's attendance of this event and a copy of the letter that Mr. Clinton wrote to Rev Wright to thank him because he was an inspiration to him.

    From my point of view. Leave the Rev alone because none of us knows this man only a 20 second clip that played endlessly on every major news station. Can I judge you within 20 seconds? I think not. End of Story........let the Wright story go. I know you want people blogging on your site and watching your channel.

    March 21, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. California Voter

    Looks like the Obama campaign is really digging deep to make a story.

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Wanda Reed

    There is no comparison to the Obama issue, a prayer breakfast for over a 100 ministers – this was just a good will gesture on Clinton's part. Rev Wright was just part of a large group, he was not Clinon's personal spiritual adviser and Clinton did not attend his church. Someone must be desperate to think this in some way will discredit Senator Clinton. And also the Clintons did not cause this issue for Obama. He did!!!

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. Anonymous

    There is a significant difference between being in a one picture with a controversial figure versus attending that priests church for 20 years.

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Cam

    Clearly this photo shows that the Rev. has no hate for the Clinton or he would have not gone to the event because it was invite only has the story explians. I think that before his sermons are judged they should be aired in can we take 30 seconds of what someone says and decided what kind of person they are. I am sure if some wants to turn anyone into a monster they can in 30 second of footage. I am a Obama supporter no matter what and hope everyone just chills out....please before we judge get the full story...what was said bfore and after those 30 seconds....for all we know he was quoting please media stop trying to stop history and let Obama take his place in history...

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    This means nothing. Next question!

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. vjh

    ohhhh? hmm, maybe this is why Hillary has had no comment to this issue. Ok, HRC supporters, lets hear you now continue raking Obama over the coals. Pie on your faces ?

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. osmond

    It comes full circle. People forget that he was in the military and served his country. Prior to these comments he was real respected in every way shape and form. Dont judge everyone by the company they keep. But in lew of all this information its time to move past him and get back to why the dollar is less than the Euro and why parents cant afford to send their kids to college

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. Maddog, Charlotte NC

    It's time to move on CNN

    March 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. Obama 008

    Is bill running for president? I wonder if he got his picture taken with george bush

    March 21, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. In the Loop, Chicago

    The caption should read...

    "If Bill personally invites him to the White House, how could he be the racist, anti-American that the media and Clintons' want him to be now?"

    Let's get real America, its become convenient to talk up this non-sense only for political purposes- nothing more.

    March 21, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  19. Susan

    The 'Chickens' have come home to 'Roost'.

    March 21, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  20. Darth

    To quote our esteemed Vice President Chaney,


    March 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  21. Joy

    CNN is helping Obama camp. Haha.

    March 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  22. TimeforHealing

    The funny thing to me is, you know they are looking for more statements from his ex-pastor. The man preached for 20 years. However there have been no more reports from Fox News of any new statements or Obama being present when he said anything racial. Could it be that the majority of his sermons where about the things he is revered and being honored for around the country? Helping the needy, feeding the poor, fathers taking responsibilty for their families, helping the homeless

    I’m just saying research. Vote HRC because she is the best candidate for you. Not some political ploy that plays on fear and emotions, trying to cast Obama as a racist when he himself is white.

    March 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Darryl, MI

    Anyone who gets invited to the White House has to be thouroghly checked, and is not a threat.

    March 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. Kathy

    You failed to mention that the Obama camp provided the picture to the New York Times.

    March 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. Jeff

    Now CNN is trying everything to help Obama win. Just look at their TV programs in the past couple of days.

    March 21, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13