July 13th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama not worried he's too preachy

Barack Obama says he does not worry about coming off as too preachy in his speeches.

Barack Obama says he does not worry about coming off as too preachy in his speeches.

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?


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (538 Responses)
  1. LT for Obama

    Being an AA female, I agree with Obama. I have never set eyes on my father from the day I was born. All I have ever seen is a picture and heard a small handful of stories.

    I don't know if I have other siblings in this world or not. Absentee fathers is a critical issue not only in AA families but in all families. Obama was stressing to an AA audience at the church the importance of the lack of fathers. This goes on in AA churches all around the country, the difference is that they are not all televised.

    July 13, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Linda Carpenter, Phoenix, Arizona

    I don't believe all the press that this whole thing has gotten when there is so much more important stuff going on! Of course, Sen Obama has the right and good sense to say what he thinks about any social issues and I like that he is not afraid to speak the truth to anyone. Unlike the liars that we have had to listen to from the Republican party over the last 7 years!

    July 13, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Loretta from California

    Yes, there are problems in the black community, and fathers abandoning their children is just one of many.

    Education or the lack there of is another big one that needs much discussion. The behavior of our children while at school. Parents defending there children when they are wrong, and as if children do not behave differently when their parents are not around. The lack of discipline that exist in our society today. I can go on and on. So let's stop pretending that these problems do not exist. They exist in all communities. I work at a High School and am very familiar with the problems that we are facing with all of our young people today.


    July 13, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. idealistic in NM

    He is right, you know.

    I do not understand why folks get so outraged when politicians (or celebrities–remember Bill Cosby's similar remarks ?) point this out. What could possibly be wrong with wanting kids to have fathers in their lives ?

    Go Obama '08 !

    July 13, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. randy

    Jesse jackson aint got noting on you.

    Barack the vote america.

    July 13, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Eric in Ca

    Come November...Intelligence returns to the White House!
    Obama you have my vote!
    When the MSM begins to address issues, then and only then will the comparison of Obama /Democratic Party and the Bush-McCain /GOP will show how after 8 years of Fiscal, Environment, Economic, Healthcare, Jobs, Energy, Foreclosures, Foreign Policy, and DOJ debacles have decimated this country here and abroad!

    July 13, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. dollah124

    What Obama should have said is the women in the black community need to realize just because your not with the father he still has rights. so many times I see the woman keeping the man out of the child's life except for child support. I have friend thats been going to court for seven years and has yet to see his children once. I went to court to set up child support and visitation rights I was told child support is not needed unless asked for by my child's mother.visitation was not granted because she never showed up for any hearings and the courts put no teeth behind their order so I left and never went back. who fault is that mine? I don't think so the more I learn about Obama the more I dislike him this guy is a fraud he's like a bad song being played over and until you sing along. Ralph Nader is sounding better by the day. Jesse Jackson had the right idea except not his private parts but his vocal cords.

    July 13, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Leslie from Garden Grove, CA

    Obama is more than Right, or WRIGHT for that matter. Obama 2008!

    July 13, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Matt Stevens

    What do Barack Obama and Jimi Hendrix have in common??? A fondness of wiretapping.

    July 13, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Butch

    Which is worse a hypocrite or a prude?

    July 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Al

    Obama is correct & Jessie knows it. Besides, after 8 yeasr of Bush % 14 years of the GOP holding Congress hostage, maybe it is time to preach. If Obama loses this fall, we are all gonna pay for it...the GOP will make sure of that! I said that when Bush was elected both times & I was right. Iraq, oil, civil rights, civil liberites, equal rights, & a woman's right to choose will go even further down the drain.

    July 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. JERRAL



    July 13, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. YES WE WILL!

    That's the straight talk we need!!!!


    July 13, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Proud American

    The truth shall set you free.
    Obama '08

    July 13, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. not important

    Jesse Jackson is a whiner.

    July 13, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Bulldog

    I find it hillarious so many GOP hypocrites ridicule Obama over Rev. Wright but then when McCain's top economic advisor (who WAS speaking for McCain at the time) that the American people are a bunch of whiners and the economic hardships are just mental they claim McCain speaks only for himself. These GOP hypocrites believe in "do what I say and not what I do." HYPOCRITES.

    July 13, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. constantine


    July 13, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Torianto

    I totally agree with Obama and here is why:

    First, regardless of the structural inequalities in America, there is and never will be an excuse for a man to walk out on his family and unfortunately to many of our African American men are guilty of this.

    Secondly, there is such a disconnect between Jackson's generation and Obama's because the former is having a difficult time moving beyond blaming the whites for all of the woes African Americans face, and the latter is trying to not only move beyond it but at the same time recognize that we meaning Black males must be held responsible for our actions regardless of the oppression we face.

    July 13, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Jeanine G

    Obama is right. Some things can't and won't be cured by legistration, but should be pointed out by our leaders as areas of special, personal focus, to start discussion and push us to improve ourselves. Sometimes the presidency is a bully pulpit.

    Jesse Jackson knows this...when he ran he was more then willing to preach...but with his personal record in regards to absent, and irresponsible fatherhood, he is also one of those who can't take the sermon when it hits too close to home. In my opinion.

    Barack the Vote!

    July 13, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Samsonite

    I don't understand what's wrong with Obama stating the importance of a father and holding Americans to a higher standard. Someone explain why it's bad to promote a solid home life for children. I grew up without a father and lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods in my city. Why is it negative and "preachy" to encourage people to take responsibility for their actions?

    Also, as wonderful as some single parents can be (my mom did and awesome job and I could never ask for a better parent), the fact remains that most likely children from single-parent families are also struggling financially, educationally, and personally (with self-esteem issues). Our president should be concerned about this since these children are the future of our great nation.

    Personally, I prefer a president who is concerned with seeing that our children have the opportunity to succeed and contribute positively to our society instead of a president who is primarily concerned with making some extra dough for whatever company or business he's connected to.

    July 13, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Black Single Father

    Anyone who GENUINELY cares about black children can't possibly find anything disagreeable about anything Obama has said on the subject.

    I was raised by a single mother in a low income all black neighborhood and now raise my 5 year old son alone.

    I know that Obama and Jackson are on the same page about what plagues black america (yes, there is such a thing) and they both are interested in fixing the ills.

    Obama is way too smart to allow the divide and conquer attempts to suceed between he and Jackson. Thats an old trick that blacks are all too familiar with.

    I watched the tape of what Jackson said, and I can envision Obama laughing as I did. Jackson did not say what he did in a malicious way and if you watch his face and body he seemed to be at least 1/2 joking.

    July 13, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. NG in DC

    He's a boring preacher with his constant wishy washy psuedo-thoughtfulness. McCain and Obama the two most borning thinkers in America.

    July 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Barb Townsend

    One thing I like about Obama is he doesn't try to please everyone -not that it would be possible anyway – but he does speak his mind.

    On this issue Bill Cosby caught a lot of heat a few years ago, when he made a statement about the things he felt needed to be changed in the world of black America. He had urged African Americans to own up to the situations and behaviors which are destructive to the wins of long faught battles by the NAACP and other groups. Cosby mentioned crime, absent fatherhood etc. and Obama is bringing up these same issues. As a matter of Black Pride these things need to be addressed.
    Every group has issues likr this that need to be addressed.

    I don't get why Jesse Jackson had to open his big mouth and be denigrating to Obama -the first African American who has chance to be President. With all due respect to Mr. Jackson he has done this kind of thing before and caused a divide between Jews and African Americans and set the whole movement backwards and toward a direction of more racial awareness and rascism.

    I am not saying this just to bask Jackson – I voted for him in the Primary but since then am disappointed just about every time he makes a public statement.

    I don't feel Obama needs to disconnect from Jackson – but he should get him to make up for the distraction he created and damage he did.

    It seems Obama is not black enough for some people, not white enough for some, not left enough for some too much toward the center for some and way to liberal to others, yet here he is leading McCain by about 6 percentage points. people please quit the divisive words and behaviors. Obama can help this nation but only if he is elected.
    i am suere Mr. Jackson will wish he had kept his piehold shut if Obama does not get elected, and the same goes for Wright and all other (pre alzheimer?) so called members of the campaign.
    Well let's give Obama a chance to heal this nation. Just getting him elected will being up our standing in the woeld and would probably help prevent WW111. All you so called Democrats please watch your mouth, your manners and get your ethics in and support the Democratic candidate. Cut out all the _____ or he might not win, then you will see how much fun it is to have a Republican in the White House again. !!

    July 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. terry

    Simply put and for the record, Obama is right on the money. Trust me, I speak from experience, having grown up without a father. Tough love is needed now more than ever in the Black community with regard to fatherhood. Jackson had his day; he needs to fall back and let the next generation lead.

    OBAMA '08!

    July 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Nicole

    President Obama has a mind of his own, and I have a huge respect for that. What is so terrible about calling on men to be father's to their children? As a sociology major in college, I realize the problems that single black women must face by being single mother's and Obama is nowhere near exaggerating the problem. It shows he cares about the future of stability of the American people, and I am sick of people taking any and every opportunity to talk bad about him for the most lame reasons. And as for Jesse Jackson, for those who don't know, he said he wanted to cut Obama's ball off. Now, that sound about right for a pastor yes??

    Proud to be an Obama supporter

    July 13, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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