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. shame on cnn

    shame on u cnn

    March 21, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  2. U-S-hooray

    I was wondering why Hillary Clinton has remained strangely silent on the issue of Rev Wright. Now I know she must have her own problems in this area.

    More Clinton hypocrisy- it all becomes exposed eventually- we been through this for 16 years now.

    March 21, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. Natasha M. in KY

    Well it looks like the Clintons too have a relationship with Rev. Wright. Are they now expected to explain thier relationship like Barack had too? Will people be outraged in the same way? Now will this threaten thier campaign? The way Barack was treated over this and the way he had to keep definding his stance is unfair! It just looks like Rev. Wright is a popular guy, at least with the Clintons too, and maybe if he heard his sermons in thier entirety, instead of sound bites, we would have a different view.

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. Tom Swift, Shopton

    Oh my goodness... the plot thickens. No wonder Hillary has been keeping quiet on this.

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. marty from Indiana

    Bill and Hilary need all the ministers around them that they can get. They are both sinners... as we all are. The Clintons both have a history of fraud and telling lies.

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  6. Dan

    So what. Obama still had and has no judgement period

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. Jackie Taylor, Florida

    Here we go again. Let me quess, he was not invited or throughly investigated, he just forced himself into a 100 person event at the WHITE HOUSE! Billary let it go, the spin is spinning back.

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. Ram

    Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama & Hillary are all great souls. They are not very much different from each other inherently. Bill & Hillary certainly worked for the emancipation of blacks. Barrack is going to be one of the great Presidents if elected to office.I do not know why Rev White got so excited & made comments which could hurt Barrack. Thought, control in speech & action is neccessary for every human being.

    March 21, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. lou

    A breakfast encounter in no way equals 20 years of attendance at Mr. Wrights church. What a supremely elementary attempt to smear the Clintons.

    March 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  10. Ben

    Obama, on philly radio yesterday morning, referred to "typical white people" during a botched anecdote. Where's that story, CNN? This guy, when not reading something prepared for him, casually drops racially insensitive remarks.

    March 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. Sweep around your own door first

    The release of this photo is justified. Anyone who is invited to the White House (and certainly someone you invite to pray for and with you) are vetted and checked out by the White House Staff and Secret Service. Pres Clinton invited Rev Wright to this event.

    There seems to be so much hypocricy. The Internet has allowed people to have longer memories because they can research the past much more easily.

    Senator Clinton srugged her shoulders when she asked if the Rev Wright issue hurt Senator Obama. He campaign is becoming more and more negative and people are tired of it.

    March 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  12. Mac in FL

    Wow, Bill Clinton once shook hands with this man – I'm speechless.

    Sadly, Barack Obama spent 20 years listening to this man and says he's like a member of the family – I'm disgusted.

    March 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  13. Brian

    Hey CNN, Obama called his grandmother (and the rest of us) "Typical White People" in a radio interview last night. Somehow I think that is more newsworthy than a White House gathering with 100 ministers, one of which happened to be Rev. White. Or am I now supposed to think that President Clinton ascribes to the same ideals that Obama obviously has for the last 20 years because he shook the mans hand and had a picture taken with him 15 years ago.

    March 21, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. nelson

    The racist Pastor has been a spiritual adviser for over 20 years of a Presidential candidate-absolutely priceless. Thanks to the Republicans we now Know whats in your heart Senator Obama. An African American who hates white Americans, although he talks a good game.

    March 21, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  15. anita

    CNN, explain your overwhelming allegince to Obama. Does this smell to anyone but me?

    You infer that a picture of Bill Clinton and Wright is comparable to OBAMA"S CHOICE to remain in a church was led by a pastor that, (at times), made verbal attacks on the country, a religion, races, and individuals? Obama was weak, (is), to have followed Wright without challenging the pastor, if not publicly, then privately.

    Your news agency is a equally weak. and without the objectivity needed to provide news.

    March 21, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. cincinnati

    so what say you Billary now. Tell the world that you want to disown this Rev. Come on tell the world. This is politics as usual. Be truthful to the American people.


    March 21, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. SharonR

    big deal news must be slow

    March 21, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Rose, Texas

    While we have never been told who the Clinton's pastor is... Or, what church they actually belong. What we do know is that when President Clinton had his disrespectful troubles while he was in office, he called on many respectable African American pastors to pray with him and the First Lady during a "Prayer Breakfast"-Rev. Wright was one of those individuals that they invited and respected. Again, who was the Clinton's pastor?

    March 21, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    Honestly, I dislike the Clintons, but meeting someone shouldn't really matter.

    We should be focusing on what really DOES matter.

    March 21, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  20. Craig

    Yes, Bill has been photographed with thousands, some in prison, some fled the country, some dead under mysterious circumstances. Give the Clintons a break!

    March 21, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  21. Beth

    wow there is a clear difference in someone meeting at a white house dinner way before these comments and the farrakahn award and a candidate that has this awful man as his mentor and close spiritual advisor for more than 20 years.
    come on cnn, I know your trying to save your boy Obama....

    March 21, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Gail

    So what? Was he supposed to know that he was Obama's hate spewing preacher way back then?

    March 21, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Sam

    Well, if Rev. Wright is one of the one hundreds pastors and ministers who have been invited to the White House, during such a critical moment of the Clinton presidency, it means that the guy represents a little bit more than what the media is depicting him.
    I think that is what the Obama campaign is trying to say.

    March 21, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  24. Adam

    Nice try Obama to get the focus off you. Your a slime ball Obama!

    March 21, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Eli, Milwaukee

    I guess this is the reason why the Clinton camp has kept quite over all of this hoopla involving Wright. they thought Highly of him also. Just goes to show that two 30 second clips are not the illustration of ones entire livelihood.

    OBAMA 08!!

    March 21, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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