(CNN) – A prominent surrogate and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton took to the Wall Street Journal editorial page Wednesday to call on Barack Obama to address "unanswered questions" about his former pastor more fully.
Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton and a key backer of the New York senator, describes his unease with Obama's response last month to the controversy surrounding his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and predicts the issue could play a major role in the general election if Obama is the Democratic nominee.
"Clearly Mr. Obama does not share the extremist views of Rev. Wright. He is a tolerant and honorable person. But that is not the issue," Davis writes. "The questions remain: Why did he stay a member of the congregation? Why didn't he speak up earlier? And why did he reward Rev. Wright with a campaign position even after knowing of his comments?"
Davis also says his own questions of Obama have been triggered anew after recently rereading some of Wright's most controversial sermons.
"I keep thinking: If my rabbi ever uttered such hateful words from the pulpit about America and declared all Palestinians to be terrorists, I have no doubt I would have withdrawn immediately from his congregation," Davis writes.
Davis, who has echoed similar sentiments on CNN and in an essay on the Huffingtonpost.com, also takes issue with those who criticize him for continuing to question the Illinois senator on the matter.
"Attacking the motives of those who feel this discomfort about Senator Obama's response or nonresponse to Reverend Wright's comments is not just unfair and wrong," Davis writes.
"It also misses the important electoral point about winning the general election in November: This issue is not going away," he adds. "If many loyal, progressive Democrats remain troubled by this issue, then there must be even more unease among key swing voters – soft ‘Reagan Democrats,’ independents and moderate Republicans – who will decide the 2008 election."
Davis is the third Clinton backer in as many days to suggest Obama's relationship with his former pastor could hinder his general election chances. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida told the New York Times on Monday the Wright matter "is a big liability," and Rep. Brad Sherman of California told the Los Angeles Times on Monday, "Her minister will not appear in McCain commercials."