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. pramod

    WWhat is this got to do with Obama spending 20 years there?
    This is not even news.

    March 21, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. ajc

    So what's the point here? I have a picture of me taken with President Clinton. I doubt he even remembers who I am or what I stand for. I don't support he or his wife (or the democrats).

    March 21, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. Ludovic

    Now I understand why the clintons where so silent about this issue

    March 21, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. susie

    Who are you working for Barack or Hillary? Very good lets keep it in the news so more and more people can see it. I thought Barack said in his speech to put this behind us and move on, this is just another example that he says one things and does another. I think this hurts Barack more than is does Hillary.

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

    Thanks for the scoop CNN! Getting a little obvious about your love affair with Obama, aren't you? This is news? I'll bet if you dig deep enough, you'll find out that Hillary was at home (White House) when....

    March 21, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  6. Jaymes Spiekerman

    no one has a negative comment about the Clinton Campaign yet? I mean, this is her husband... Don't the Clinton bashers like to jump on any negativity and say something? I figured a whole lot of people would be like, "see, she talked to him too" This whole thing is getting rediculous!!!! I'm getting fed up with all of this on the democrats side.

    March 21, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  7. Ken Pontac

    Why is this newsworthy at all?

    March 21, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. Yeah, SO????

    It's official, CNN has become nothing more than TMZ. Though at least TMZ has the honesty to admit that it isn't trying to cover real news. Why is CNN trying to stir up more controversy by the fact that Bill met somebody once? Combine this with the Monica story the other day and it's clear that CNN's "Best Political Team On Television" needs to go back to Journalism 101. Bias, innuendo, and moronic commentary, those are the cornerstones of CNN news these days.

    March 21, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  9. Ken, Austin TX

    Though I believe this photo would be a weak argument to suggest that there is a Clinton/Wright connection, I do think it serves a great shows that Rev. Wright is not the Caucasian-hating monster that the media has made him out to be. I hope this photo helps bring a resolution to the unnecessary racial tension that has been going on in the past week. I pray that American can overcome this, and not let one person's remarks stir up a pot of hate. Come on America, we can do better!

    March 21, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Sarah L

    I wonder why this story has not gotten more coverage in the media? Of course they want to keep the focus on Barack Obama being for Pastor Wright. I am so disgusted by the media these days. Don't people see the hypocrasy that is going on?!

    March 21, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. cc4obama

    Can't wait to hear the Clinton spin on this one. I bet Hillary won't bring up Pastor White's name again!

    March 21, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |

    Why even report this ? This is a ridiculous story.

    March 21, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Kathie

    Obama sat through those nasty hateful racist sermons and kept close friends with Rev Wright because he saw that he could
    help his political career. That is why he was so willing to turn
    a blind eye and not stand up to him for the so called things that
    he said he didn't agree with that he was preaching.
    Does this make Obama a hypocrite or an opportunist or both?

    March 21, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. No Obama

    So? Clinton is friendly and nice to black people.

    How about Wright? what did he say to Clinton???? He is such a scary pastor!

    March 21, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. king from toronto

    exactly what obama said,wright is a well respected pastor.the clintons knew this, but did'nt step up and defend the same man, who help bill through his tough time."wow"

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

    What is your point, CNN? A photo with the infamous pastor is not the same as sitting in the man's audience for 20+ years as he spewed wild theories and anti-American sentiment. I bet you won't post this. I ave a hit rate of about 10% with posts on CNN ticker and Cafferty blog. They like to post anti-Hillary stuff but not stuff crtical of Obama.

    March 21, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. Sublime Dialectic

    Lesson that SHOULD be learned:

    Everything isn't as simple as it my appear!

    Let's get off this Pastor Wright story and move forward!! American voters (I know I speak for many on this one) deserve and want more!

    March 21, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. LifeLongDemocrat

    This is news? POliticians shake hands with a lot of people they don't even know...what is the point of this? Is the Obama campaign running out of material? Give me a break.

    March 21, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |

    Obama, you are the leader we have been waiting for!

    OBAMA '08

    March 21, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. deb in az

    i really dont think that this should even be reported on.....he was one of many ministers invited.... cnn are you trying to make something out of nothing?

    March 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. truth,ok

    i don't think pastor Wright is racist. he is a former marine who put his life on the line for this country. i think he is just mad at the government. there are lots of veterans who are mad of the government. the comment he made was not to individuals but, was directed towards the government. this guy was even invited to the white house by former president Clinton. we'll have walk in his shoes to understand why he made those comments.

    March 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Greg

    No one should be held hostage by the statements of others, be they family, friends, or strangers. Neither Obama, nor Clinton, should have to pay for what others say. Of three priests in the church I attend and have a meaningful history with, one sometimes gives "unfortunate" sermons that frustrate me. The idea that that should reflect on me, or that I should find another church, is terrible, and not what I believe America is about. Not even my parents should define me. I take responsibility for myself, and want to be judged on my own merits.
    Don't we all?

    March 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. BG - Texas

    Presidents take pictures with tens of thousands people.

    He might have said hello and somebody took a candid picture, BUT he didn't spend 20 years with him being his Mentor or attending his church or listening to his 'liberation theology".

    Really stretching it now?

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

    Someone is really scaping the bottom of the barrel to find dirt now.....shaking someone hands does not imply you are aware they are preaching hate speech weekly to children with families. Sitting and listenning to hate preaches for 20 years does.

    March 21, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. Dan , TX

    Wright said in his sermon that we should put God above Country. That is unpatriotic!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm sure this is NOT the view of Christians.

    March 21, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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