March 21st, 2008
11:00 AM ET
7 years ago

Photo shows President Clinton, controversial Obama minister

ALT TEXT

(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. wiser

    What a pathetic attempt of Senator Obama and his campaign. What a hypocrite! Guess what, Senator Obama, Reverend Wright is YOUR spiritual “hate” advisor and mentor.

    Thanks for clarifying your views, comparing “most white people” to your grandmother.

    We don't need a divisive president whose wife and minister degrade our country. You are not fit to lead our country.

    March 21, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. AllAmericankid, Marietta, GA

    well he was just a "spiritual adviser" to Bill Clinton during the monica scandal........Big deal

    March 21, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Zia

    Barrak is a once in a life time opportunity for us to make things right. With either Clinton or McCain, we will just be extending the current rut that started back in 1988. I am not sure America can afford another 4 years of that.

    March 21, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. G. Rowland

    i thought we are a christian nation that forgives. i wonder how many people think that they are going to heaven.

    March 21, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. Jeffrey

    Bill Clinton shaking hands with someone as President? NO FREAKIN WAY! Unbelievable! Why was he not impeached for this picture instead of the obstruction of justice and perjury charges? Maybe there is a picture of President Clinton shaking hands with Senator Obama.... that would END Hillary's campaign immediately!

    The Obama campaign leaked this? ok...

    March 21, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. Casey, Atlanta

    The Obama campaign tried this one with Rezko. Didn't work then, won't work now.

    March 21, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Info

    Gotcha!

    March 21, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Aries(NJ)

    Now I know why the CLINTON'S have no comment on the REV Jeremiah Wright issue...they wined and dined and probably sat in the pew at his church too...how about that!!!

    March 21, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. almost 40 year old

    Big deal the Clintons were not members of his church for 20 years nor were they married by him.

    Also I have to say what was Richardson thinking?

    Kerry, Richardson, Kennedy for Obama... sounds like loosers are supporting Obama!

    Richardson is toast with me now!

    March 21, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. D.Kimbro OHIO

    Ok.. This is getting rediculous. If you don't show common courtesy, by shaking hands, you're a racist. If you decide to shake somone's hand then you are linked to them forever. I don't see the relevance.

    March 21, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. gene

    No matter that the american press contines to try and lower Bill Clinton"s historical signifcance people all over the world know what he meant to the United States and most of the world. The majority of the jounarlists in this country should be completly ashamed of themselves.

    March 21, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. maya

    This is pathetic. So what?

    March 21, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. elvira

    Being at the same breakfast with bill clinton isn't the same as sitting in his church for 20 years obama. take responsibility for your bad judgement . You're a liar and a fake.

    March 21, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Brian Burton

    It seems that CNN has, in many of it's stories, referred to Rev. Wright as Obama's former pastor. Last I heard, Obama has been a member of Rev. Wright's church for more than 20 years – and still is.

    So, where does "former" come from? Maybe the media is trying to help Sen. Obama distance himself from this radical preacher? Let's tell the truth....Rev. Wright still IS Sen. Obama's pastor !!!!!

    March 21, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. DeniseGA

    So I guess, Wright is not a Racist....after all he was a guest at the White House.....People have said on other blog...well maybe the comments were after that photo...... Then ask yourself, why every KEEPS saying he's been a racist for 20 years?

    I guess Wright didn't preach racisim all the time!!!

    March 21, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. Glenn, Cary, NC

    It has been reported on cable news that the Obama campaign put this photo out to the media. Isn't there at least a subtle difference between briefly shaking hands with one of a hundred ministers gathered to hear President Clinton speak and, for 20 years, sitting in a church built by and presided over by that same minister?

    This reminds me of how the Obama campaign released a photo (again, just a one-time photo) of Tony Rezko standing with the Clintons at some event. They released the photo to distract the media from talking about Obama's 17-year long, close political, personal and – finally – financial relationship with Rezko.

    Come to think of it, this same false-equivalency dodge was at the heart of Obama's desperate speech about race in America – instead of racism in his own church. Jeremiah Wright's tirades were matched with Geraldine Ferraro's off-handed response to a question.

    Martin Luther King suggested that we judge others by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. I keep looking for some strength of character in Senator Obama. So far, I see someone with a glib command of the language but no real stand-up-and-be-counted courage. Stop weaseling, Senator. Do something to make your nation proud. Oh yeah. I forgot. It's not really your nation, is it?

    March 21, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. EV

    This is a pathetic and shameful retort. Comparing a photo-op to a 20 year relationship with a hate-monger is hardly the same. This is also apllies to the comaprison that Obama made between Wright and Ferraro. As a democrat, this is not THE change that I can believe in!!

    March 21, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. WallyWutMD

    Doesn't look like someone who hates White people to me...

    March 21, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. La Raza

    Hmmmm.... I can't wait to see how the Obama haters spin this. I will support Obama no matter what kitchen sink or kitchen table you all throw. He is our only ray of light when you look at McCain and Hillary.

    March 21, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. Rosemary Storaska

    "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." CNN diversion tactic along with 2 free hours on Anderson Cooper and Larry King live. Gee, what great journalism? Fairness? A Clinton special is due and the Pennsylvania primary would be the perfect time to get your journalistic efforts back on track.

    March 21, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Chris from Ohio

    I know Obama has a deeper and longer relationship with Wright but what this shows is Wright was not thought of has some hate talking pastor like we are led to believe.

    March 21, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Jan

    CNN you are not journalist–you are biased.
    Everyone should boycott CNN for swaying voters and the entire election process.

    March 21, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Eric

    How many other religious leaders attended this breakfast? How many years did Obama attend Wright's church? Why didn't he leave the church? Is the Obama campaign responsible for this photo? If so, then why would they do so if they thought nothing was wrong with Wright?

    March 21, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  24. Rob

    Yeah, because having your picture taken with a guy you've never met is the same as giving his church $22,000 after you've been going there for years. Why on earth is this even worth publishing? People have met each other? Calm down!

    March 21, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Bob

    I'm surprised he'd shake Bill's hand

    March 21, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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