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. Sam

    This photo may show Wright with President Clinton in the past, but he was Not Clinton's "spiritual advisor". What are you trying to prove?

    March 21, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. juan

    well, well, well, no wonder the Clintons have been silent through this whole thing.

    March 21, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Dick

    Clinton is guilty of many things but this is just "littering" by running his picture with this outrageous pastor.

    March 21, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Jose'

    birds of a feather

    March 21, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Fatima

    Im an Obama supporter, but let's be fair, this is just a picture. Presidents take pictures all the time, its a part of what they do! They dont have to agree with the person, or support them. Show me that Bill Clinton ever said he thinks Rev. Wright is a great preacher, then you might have something....but on the other hand, Hillary Clinton is running for President. Lets judge her for what she's done/said....

    March 21, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Belle

    So what? President Clinton did not attend his church for 20 years!

    March 21, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Val

    WOOPS! This is so funny.

    March 21, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Hay

    People say Obama should dissociate himself from his pastor because of his remarks-then maybe Hillary should dissociate herself from Bill for his preverted behavior.. Hmmm

    March 21, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Sarah

    Though Clinton may have met with and corresponded with thousands, I do suspect that people were not invited to the White House without there being some understanding of their backgrounds. Of course this doesn't indicate that the Clintons had any relationship with Wright, but it does show what most news outlets have failed to report clearly: Wright is a respected figure in Chicago and in the United Church of Christ, not some fringe radical as many would have us think.

    March 21, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. Subash Nanjangud

    Thank god the Clinton campaign did not 'bait' or is it 'bite' the pastor controversy,which probably what the other side was hoping for. They have remained cool and calm. So the speech which evrbody is raving about.Now, imagine if Clinton had used words like 'typical' to refer to people...she would have been butchered by the same media and the same set of people that are trying brush it under the carpet.

    March 21, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. David C. In Indianapolis

    So will the Clintons have to reject Rev Wright too? How did such a radical minister end up being invited to the Clinton White House, hmmm? Nice photo op, BIll....I suppose you were invited to his church also.......Seems you and Obama travel in the same circles.

    Obama '08

    March 21, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. Adam Michael

    It is done. Clinton, Obama, and all Americans agree with Rev. Wright's statements! Lets move on. Obama is a great guy without any doubt. He can unite all together.

    March 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Elmo McGlubber

    Notice how Bill doesn't seem able to meet the pastor's eyes? Or is he calling, "Hey Hillary, here's someone I'd like you to meet"?

    March 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. David in Shawnee

    Let's hear a condemnation and rejection from Bill now.

    March 21, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Yemol


    March 21, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. steven

    SO what? Bill Clinton had his picture taken with lots of preachers that infamous day. I would suspect Obama has had his picture taken with more preachers than just the Rev. Wright. I'm more interested in the statement Obama made about his grandmother being a "typical white woman" than this...

    March 21, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Moe, NY

    CNN I am begining to think you people are really sick! You just had to draw Clinton into this mess. Personally, I am tired of CNN and everyone else blaming Clinton for just about everything. Yes, there was a scandal which I am sick and tired of hearing about....he paid his dues...enough already! Move on!

    March 21, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. lenore

    this picture is a wasted use of air time. i am sure there are alot of pictures of people with all our presidents that they wish would rather not have been taken. We do not need a picture of Obama sitting in his church or being home with his wife to realize he should of spoken up sooner. As president he needs to be a leader and a person who can convience others to change thier ways. As MY GRANDMOTHER taught me you are what your friends are. I am uncomfortable with Obamas life CHOICES and feel I can no longer vote for him.

    March 21, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. DL

    Oh, come on.

    Digging out a picture of President Clinton with J. Wright is a top story? Sad, CNN. So, so sad.

    Here's an idea – why not post a story on where Obama and Hillary Clinton align on issues. Give us something that would allow us to use our minds.

    March 21, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. truth

    and that is news ???
    CNN you need to start reporting real news.
    He was a president , must have met many people then...
    Obama camp is trying to distract people and CNN is more than happy to do it

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Chris

    WOW who cares!!!
    If the media would get past this, I'm sure American can!!!

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. David, FL

    If you look at teh photo, Bill Clinton turned his face from him! what does that say to you?
    He knew what a jerk Wright was back than!

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. darron

    Dirty tricks cut both ways and are not the way to win this.

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Chanel

    Oops! People were so concerned about the Rev. Wright going to visit Barak in the white house...looks like he's already been to visit our beloved Clintons and well, not just ANYBODY is invited to the white house.

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. in California

    More than any sign of poor judgment, and Bill Clinton has had a few, I think this just exposes the hypocrisy of Mr. Wright.

    March 21, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13