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. Uncle Sam

    If Senator Obama lacks the moral courage to confront wrongdoing in his own church, how can we expect him to act differently as president?

    March 21, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  2. Maurice Jr

    Jake Tapper of ABC NEWS put the release of this photo by the Obama campaign in a better context than I could have. He said

    "The meaning of this photograph of then-President Bill Clinton and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, provided to the New York Times by the Obama campaign)?


    It means nothing.

    The former president shook Wright's hand = Obama's 20-year relationship with him? Preposterous. I can't even believe anyone had the temerity to push the photo. The audacity of hope, I suppose."

    Obama is just like any other politician and not the messiah like he would like us to think. He is DIRTY and getting DESPERATE.

    March 21, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  3. Desiree

    The Obama camp put this picture out to show what, that Rev. Wright has visited the White House, this picture has no purpose and if the Clinton camp puts out a picture of Obama it gets treated differently by the media. Obama camp also put out the picture of Rezko with the Clinton, my sister took a picture with Bill Clinton at a book signing, is camp Obama going to release that too, why don't they talk about the issues and stop the negatives.

    March 21, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  4. Dan, Illinois

    CNN can you really talk up Obama anymore? He is anti-American and you still talk him up like he is America's hero. You are who you surround yourself with and if Obama has been close to Rev. Wright for 20 years then I am positive some of Wright's influences have rubbed off on Obama. Obviously, Obama doesn't want people to think that though since then his campaign would be completely over. Be true to the American people, CNN. We deserve it.

    I'd appreciate it if you would post this comment. Thanks!

    March 21, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. Laura Long

    I would like to hear more about the other side of Rev. Wright from the media. No one in the press seems to be interested in telling us about the good things he has done.

    March 21, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. P. Agnello

    PRICELESS . . .Bill Clinton invited Rev. Wright to pray for him during the Clinton Scandals. If he's good enough for Hillary's husband, then I guess he is good
    enough for Senator Obama.

    Obama 08.

    March 21, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Bill Clinton is not running here.

    I find that Mr.Obama is no better than all the others he talks about change and he is out there like any other canidate hence the picture of Mr.Wright and Clinton.

    I still have a major problem with Obama staying in close relationship for 20 years with this man . And surrounding himself with that hatred.

    I also have a problem with the thing of him now surrounding himself with all these american flags.

    People wake up he is not the Saviour that he wants to be. and that you expect.

    Lets move on and forget about Mr.Obama

    March 21, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Mike T

    Does this not show how EASY it is to find their dirt?

    March 21, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. Shame on you America

    Oh my goodness... Hillary supporters will swear that he just met the man once, and didn't really like him (obvious by the way he's looking C'mon, They thought him to be significant enough to INVITE him to the whitehouse...

    Well good... When Obama invites him back during his presidency, he should have no trouble finding the place...

    stop the hypocrisy!!!

    Obama 08

    Scott Hughes ATL

    March 21, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. JENA from Woodbridge

    That's incredible, Bill Clinton and Jeremiah Wright (hand-hand), God have mercy. Now what? Please leave this Jeremiah situation behind and let move on to something else. Leave Obama alone from now on, he cannot be responsable of what his pastor said.

    March 21, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. LAURA

    Why isObama referring to his grandmother as a typical white person not considered a racist comment?

    March 21, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Laura, MS

    I like both Obama and Hillary. And stuff like this is hurting the party. But I'm voting Dem no matter what.

    March 21, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. PA

    Many people have spoken this week in support of Rev. Wright has a good minister for many years and as a man who is not well represented in the few clips of him at are so upsetting.

    I think that President Clinton should have said something to support him. It would not have hurt Mrs. Clinton's campaign and it may have helped heal America.

    March 21, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  14. AK

    Big deal, he was at the White House, so has almost every world leader, good or bad as well as rock musicians, comedians, etc. this doesnt mean that he was Bills or Hillarys spiritual leader as he was (and may still be) Barack's.

    March 21, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  15. Sherry in Kentucky

    The coverage of this whole Rev. Wright thing has been shameful and fear mongering. The press should apologize to America. I had to stop watching the news for a while.

    March 21, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  16. Rusty Rose

    This is pure desperation by the Obama campaign.
    Total amateur hour.
    Drop out Barack. Leave the presidency to the adults.

    March 21, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. Joe (WI)

    Well, well, well. This photo better get the same coverage and air time as the ridiculous videos.

    March 21, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  18. Candi South Carolina

    That is why Hillary wanted to distance herself from the Wright plight.

    March 21, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  19. mike mullin london ontario canada

    Additionally if Rev Wright was considered to be one of the top religious leaders in the US by the President of the US that serfes to affirm Obamas claims tha their was much more to the man than the video bites that cnn ran continuosly in an effort to distort his campaign. I have been a cnn junkie for years and I am frustrated. I beg you to give this coverage just in the spirit of fairness PLEASE.

    March 21, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  20. Mose

    Let me ask a question? Are we to be judged by another man or are we to be judged by our own character? Obama stands for change from the old way of thinking and doing to something more benificial to all. I say Obama has a better plan.

    March 21, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  21. david

    And this is a story because....??

    March 21, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  22. kendall

    Exactly what is your point CNN? Are you trying to compare a photo op with sitting in a church for twenty years listening to this man? PLease. CNN has become Jerry Springer-like.

    March 21, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  23. Wayne, Greenville TX

    It's way past time for everyone to drop this and get on with discussing the ISSUES!!!!

    March 21, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. From PA

    So What???

    Bill Clinton has met so many people, does not mean he is close friends with them.

    My brother has a picture of him and Bill Clinton.,, does not mean they are best friends or know each other as friends.....just happend to be there

    March 21, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. CW in DC

    As the saying goes... "A pictures is worth a thousand words."

    In this case – let's make that one million words.

    And the Clintonites will say this doesn't matter in 3.....2.....1....

    March 21, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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