SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) – Barack Obama says he hasn’t spoken to Rev. Jesse Jackson since the pastor was caught by an open mic saying that Obama is “talking down to black people,” and using a vulgar expression to vent his feelings about the candidate.
“I had spoken to him before, a few days before,” Obama told a gaggle of reporters aboard his campaign plane, “and we had actually discussed some of the concerns he had raised about my fatherhood speech.”
Obama spoke at an African-American church on Father’s Day and took black absentee fathers to task for shirking their responsibilities.
“I told [Jackson] that I absolutely believe that we have structural inequalities in this country that have to be dealt with,” said Obama. “We also have to recognize that there is a particular problem when more than a half of African-American children are growing up without a father in the house and often times not even knowing their father.”
“That is a problem and I won’t back up one bit in asserting that that’s a problem that we have to be honest about,” he added.
Asked how Jackson replied, Obama told CNN, “I think it would be hard for him to disagree with that since many of the things I have said are the things that he has said in the past.”
When a reporter remarked that bad fathering isn’t something that can be fixed by a federal policy, Obama responded that his June speech sparked a conversation and has given him “something of a bully pulpit.”
“I do think part of the role of president is to offer his or her opinions about critical issues, not all of which can be solved by government, but make a big difference in the quality of our society. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to solve these problems overnight, but I’d like to think that if a president says that something’s important, that some people might pay some attention.”
But does he worry about coming off as too preachy?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Things got heated Sunday morning on CNN’s Late Edition over the question of whether taxpayers have to bail out the government-sponsored mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“If they're in deep trouble, [should] U.S. taxpayers go out and bail them out?” host Wolf Blitzer asked Senator Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who was on the program with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut. Dodd jumped in to respond himself.
“To suggest somehow that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are in trouble is simply not accurate,” Dodd replied.
Last week shares of the two mortgage giants plummeted as speculators grew increasingly nervous that Fannie and Freddie would not be able to guarantee the $5 trillion debt they hold in mortgages. Dodd’S committee oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“The facts are that Fannie and Freddie are in sound situations,” Dodd said. “They have more that adequate capital, in fact more than the law requires.”
When pressed about the recent IndyMac Bank federal takeover, Dodd said that could have been avoided if there had been proper regulations in place to monitor the sub-prime mortgage market.
IndyMac closed on Friday after federal regulators realized that the bank was no longer capable of guaranteeing deposits. The bank was also a large issuer of sub-prime mortgages.
Kyl said Americans should not fear the money they have in banks is at risk. But he added that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac situation is “of serious concern… They really are barely staying above water.”
NEW YORK (CNN) – Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday the Bush administration is trying to "blame the fire on the person who calls 911" by suggesting he had a role in one of the costliest U.S. bank failures.
Federal regulators with the Office of Thrift Supervision were "asleep at the switch" when it came to IndyMac's "reckless" behavior, the New York Democrat complained.
The OTS announced Friday that it was taking over the $32 billion IndyMac and transferring control to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The OTS pointed the finger directly at Schumer for the failure, accusing him of sparking a bank run by releasing a letter that "expressed concerns about IndyMac's viability."
"In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts," the OTS said in a statement announcing the California-based lender's takeover on Friday.
The statement included a quote from OTS Director John Reich saying, "Although this institution was already in distress, I am troubled by any interference in the regulatory process."
Schumer, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, chairman of Congress' Joint Economic Committee and the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, rejected any suggestions of responsibility for IndyMac's collapse.
Watch what's ahead on the campaign trail.
(CNN) - Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are starting the week with an outreach to two crucial voting blocs - Hispanic and African-American voters.
Both candidates are speaking before the National Council of La Raza, one of the country's largest Hispanic organizations. Obama addresses the group on Sunday in San Diego, California, and McCain delivers his speech Monday.
The event marks the last of three major Hispanic and Latino organizations the candidates are appearing before this summer.
Both candidates last week spoke to LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Previously, the two spoke at the annual conference of NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
As many as 9 to 10 million Latinos could cast ballots in the fall, and Hispanic voters could swing some important battleground states such as Florida.
Recent polls show Obama leading McCain by a 2-to-1 ratio among Hispanic voters.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) – Flying to California Saturday night, Barack Obama told reporters he “didn’t have a particular site in mind” for an upcoming speech in Germany and he doesn’t “want the negative to be a distraction.”
He was responding to reports in the German press in recent weeks that he wants to speak at the country’s famous Brandenburg Gate – the site of President Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech – during his forthcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East.
The reports started a fierce debate in Germany about the possible perception of a candidate campaigning at a national and international monument.
“I want to make sure that my message is heard as opposed to creating a controversy,” Obama said. “Our goal is just for me to lay out how I think about the next administration’s role and rebuilding our transatlantic alliance.”
“What I want to do is just work with folks on the ground to find some place that’s appropriate,” he added.
Obama has also announced plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan and said he’d be traveling with Sens. Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed to Iraq as part of a congressional delegation – or CODEL. Obama called the senators “experts in foreign policy” and praised them for “a traditional bipartisan wisdom when it comes to foreign policy.”
Asked if he would discuss his plans to withdraw American troops from Iraq with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in light of Maliki’s recent call for a timetable for withdrawal, Obama said he wasn’t going there to negotiate or make promises.
“I am there to listen,” answered Obama before adding that his position “is now a position that is also held by the Iraqi government itself.”
(CNN) - Bernie Mac made a surprise appearance at a Barack Obama fundraising event Friday evening - but given heckling from the crowd and a rebuke from the Illinois senator's campaign for an off-color joke, the comedian may wish he'd just stayed home.
Introducing Obama at the high-dollar fundraising event in Chicago, Mac delivered a 10-minute standup routine during which he joked about sexual promiscuity and referred to women as "hos."
"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?"' Mac said toward the end of his routine. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000."'
"Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos," Mac said, delivering the joke's punchline.
Some attendees of the $2,300 per-person event immediately registered their displeasure with Mac's joke, and asked that he leave the stage.
"It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," one man shouted.
Mac introduced the Democratic presidential candidate shortly after and Obama called the comedian a "great friend." The Illinois senator also joked that Mac needs to "clean up [his] act."
"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," he said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."
But the campaign issued a statement shortly after the event that was decidedly more serious in its condemnation of Mac's comments.
"Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
(CNN) - The liberal environmentalist Green Party nominated former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as its presidential candidate Saturday.
McKinney, 53, held off three rivals to win the party's nomination during its convention in Chicago, Illinois. She picked journalist and activist Rosa Clemente as her running mate.
Green Party spokeswoman Scott McLarty acknowledged McKinney was a "long shot" for the White House, but said, "Every vote that she gets helps the Green Party."
"The United States needs an alternative party," McLarty said. "The narrow two-party system we have right now has not served us very well."
McKinney represented a suburban district of Atlanta, Georgia, as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms - five consecutively.
First elected in 1992, she lost a primary challenge in 2002 after suggesting in a radio interview that members of the Bush administration stood to profit from the war that followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
In 2004 she ran again and won with a low-key campaign in which she largely avoided controversy. But voters ousted her again in 2006 after she was accused of a physical altercation with a U.S. Capitol Police officer who questioned her after failing to recognize her at a security checkpoint.