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. just me

    This should be a headline on the first page. Put it out there like you did Obama!

    March 21, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. vanchava



    March 21, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. John

    Bill Richardson is going to make a wonderful Vice president, his battle test expeience and world view will greatly add to Baracks vision and Judgement they have the makings of the strongest alliance for change that this country has ever seen. Hillary if you back of there may still be a chance for a cabniet level position, or if not you'll still be a great Senetor for NY. Obama/Richardson Hope and Experience that is un matched by anybody that the GOP could ever hope to run against us. Our New American Peoples Party, Or Neo-Dems is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

    March 21, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  4. BRENT

    Hahahaha! Clinton isn't even bothering to look at him!

    March 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  5. Jim

    now this is ridiculous. I have several pictures with Bill Clinton...and he doesn't even know my name.

    March 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  6. John

    Ferero who? huh?

    March 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. Lisa

    "[Y]ou can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do," Huckabee says. "It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what ... Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable, years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"

    Later, he defended Wright's anger, too:

    "As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say 'That's a terrible statement!' ... I grew up in a very segregated South. And I think that you have to cut some slack - and I'm gonna be probably the only conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you - we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names..."

    March 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. Lisa

    HANNITY: He's been - but he's been going to the church for 20 years. His pastor - the church gave a lifetime achievement award to one of the biggest racists and anti-Semites in the country, Louis Farrakhan. Would you go to a church that - where your pastor supported Louis Farrakhan?

    MCCAIN: Obviously, that would not be my choice. But I do know Sen. Obama. He does not share those views.

    March 21, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. Andrew, Baltimore, MD

    Of course, this means that the Clintons are racists. Actually, it doesn't mean that, the same way that it doesn't mean that Obama is a racist, because the words of Rev. Wright are not Clinton's or Obama's words.

    March 21, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  10. Chris

    Seems the UTCC wants a fight. The UTCC is trying to down play Obama’s 20 year loving relationship with Rev Wright’s hateful sermons. It won’t work. Obama has 20 years of hate filled sermons; Obama can’t even transcend racial issues in his own church much less nationally.

    Michelle isn’t proud of our country, wonder how Wright and the UTCC brainwashed that into her. Obama lumps “typical” white people with his grandmother’s fears. It should be clear where Obama’s mind is at.

    March 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  11. Paul

    Who cares? Oh yeah, it's the media smear clowns who care.

    March 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  12. Stephen

    this is ridiculous, there are pictures of Winston Churchill meeting with Hitler, does that imply anything?

    March 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. PLJ

    If I weren't follwing this election so closely, i would have thought Rev. Wright to be running for President. He appears to be getting MORE Attention then everyone, even the candidates who have dropped out of the race, did not get this much air time.

    Could You People Please STOP Talking about this man and stay focused on the issues, or is your Attention Span really that short?

    March 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  14. Billie

    So what is your point CNN? Trying to get the heat off of Obama. The last time I checked, Bill Clinton was not running for President. I don't think he's been going to this creep's church for 20 years either. He was president for 2 terms, I bet you could find a lot of pictures. Where is Hillary saying she loves this preacher or something? I used to have respect for CNN, but not anymore, since this election started. You have been so biased in favor of Obama that it sickens me. What happened to being fair?

    March 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Nina

    Obama tries to attach his "MESS" case to Clintons... It is so sad how Obama get so low! He will do anything to get nominated.
    Is he saying something and doing something else.

    March 21, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. AJ

    Okay – so he attended a prayer breakfast. Big deal. Bill Clinton did not sit in his congregation for 20 years listening to his racist anti-America diatribes. Bill Clinton did not ask this racist to be a part of his campaign.

    March 21, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. jessica

    Wow, not only did they have a picture together but personal letters from Bill Clinton.

    March 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  18. W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    Anybody really want to know why Rev.Wright thinks as he does?

    Just go to any news site and read the comments.

    March 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. PA Voter

    Can we let this Wright thing just go away. Who cares thats he is racist or Anti American. I have friends that say we deserve what we get. I also have friends that are like Gov. Rendell has said that won't vote for Obama just because he is black. Just because your friends with them don't mean you agree with there thoughts and that shouldn't be an issue in the election. Please just let it go and let Clinton and Obama hash it out about the issues. I'm tired of hearing he is friends with Wright or he is a liar. I could name things numerous things about what Clinton has did in her personal life, but I'm not going to because its really none of our business what Obama and Clinton do in there personal life. Lets not forget were all human and have our own problems. Lets get on the issues and only the issues.

    March 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Mark K

    I'll frame this right next to the Billary Revko photo. Let's stop evaluating the candidates on who they happen to know and start evaluated them on the basis of who they are and what they stand for.

    March 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. wycliffe

    What goes around comes around. So Clintons are also involved with the Obama pastor. We would like to have more details about their meetings.

    March 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. mike mullin london ontario canada

    I very much hope that in the spirit of fairness cnn will give this good coverage and that obviously the Rev Wright was much more than the way he has been identified time and again by the pro Clinton cnn.

    March 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  23. BobW

    When Obama's African photo surfaced, there was a big uproar that someone said it came from a Clinton supporter. How come there is no uproar about this photo. It is a meaningless photo that is trying to denigrate the Clintons.

    March 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  24. Larry Buchas

    Too funny. Bill Clinton needed respectable church leaders to hear his confession. Reverend Wright was one of those respected leaders.

    Bill angered the Reverend when the Clintons starting attacking Obama. There must be some resentment there. But Barack is the healer. Barack understands forgiving the sinner better than Reverend Wright. His speech was a better sermon than the Reverend's.

    March 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. LaMont

    This is why the Clinton campaign has been so quiet about this whole thing.

    March 21, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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