March 19th, 2008
06:07 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama: Wright controversy has 'shaken me up'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewed Obama Wednesday."](CNN) - Barack Obama told CNN Wednesday the recent uproar over his former pastor's sermons has reminded him of the odds he faces in winning the White House.

"In some ways this, this controversy has actually shaken me up a little bit and gotten me back into remembering that the odds of me getting elected have always been lower than than some of the other conventional candidates," the Illinois senator told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive one-on-one interview. (Related: Behind the scenes: Anderson Cooper asks Obama if the controversy has damaged him)

Obama declined to speculate on whether the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah's Wright's sermons may damage him politically, but said his campaign does best when it doesn't follow the "textbook."

"If I was just running the textbook campaign– doing the conventional thing, I probably wasn't going to win because Senator Clinton was going to be much more capable of doing that than I would be," he said. "We had tremendous success– and I think we were starting to get a little comfortable and conventional right before Texas and Ohio."

The exclusive interview came one day after Obama delivered a major speech on race and politics in Philadelphia, during which he denounced some of Wright's comments, but said he could not repudiate the man himself.

Full story

Catch the full interview tonight on Anderson Cooper 360, 10 p.m. ET

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (332 Responses)
  1. Hussein

    Joe, from what I understand, Obama said, on Friday, that he had not heard the comments by Wright speifically shown in the clips which had begun to circulate–not that he had never heard him say anything bad in all 20 years. This is consistent with his position in yesterday's speech. FYI.

    March 19, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Nicholas Hussein

    Joe, how did he lie? He wasn't present during the sermon that you've seen on TV, and yesterday re-iterated that he wasn't. He said he has sat through objectionable content before though, and you probably find that reason enough to "reject & denounce" him, huh?

    Besides, even if he had been at that sermon, what would you really expect him to do? Jump up & say hey, Rev. Wright, I'm planning to run for President, please calm down?!

    Give the man a break! We ALL have friends whose views and/or lifestyles we don't agree must've missed the explanatory part of his speech yesterday, and the analogy involving his white grandmother...

    Please, everyone...this is not a political issue. Rev. Wright isn't running for President, Barack Obama is. And Barack Obama has shown pride and love for his country through his actions over the last year – that is undeniable.

    If you just don't like him because he's black, or because some of his friends are (also) black and (also) angry – you should at least have the guts to admit that THAT is why you don't like him. But calling him a liar only makes you look bad.

    March 19, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. clinton muehlenbrock

    how many of you have hearing problems? Obama said he did not hear the contraversial words from u-tube. He said the pastor has said things he didnt agree with politically but in no way stating he heard the pastors view that is being broadcasted. How did he lie? Fill me in. To the people who support clinton and don't know why, you make a fool of yourself when you speak before knowing or understanding whats being said.

    have a wonderful day and 4 more years of jobs being outsourced by bill clintons nafta. You guys are intelligent. Bush senior wrote nafta bill finalized it hahaha vote away nafta is not going anywhere lol.

    March 19, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. dee, tx

    for the person who said Barack lied to us...I'm reminded of Hillary's statement during a debate in which she said she was not aware she was voting to go to war in Iraq, the bill was title "....Authorization for war" please spare me the outrage.

    March 19, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. Cory

    Don't the Hilary-fanatics have anything better to do than blindly rant and rave in every comment section? Do you really think you're convincing anyone at all, or even remotely helping her campaign? How many times must I read "OBAMA IS A LIAR. I SEE IT IN HIS FACE." or "Go Hilary! Obama's a scumbag! Clinton '08" among the countless others.

    Really, give it up. It's the equivalent of 2nd-grade insults. Y'know, there's this thing called, critical, rational thought–use it, and you all might come up with something to say that's worth my consideration. Please, for the sake of everyone, lift the veil.

    March 19, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. josh

    If we don't stop bickering and stand together McInsane and the Repubes will get the White House.

    WWIII, anyone?

    March 19, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Cameron Johnson

    "Well, you know, It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything"

    – The Senator from New York (HRC)

    A move of opportunity at best, and at worst, a further attempt to pervert and supercede the rules of the primary election process.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Peter

    Joe, as with many of you who are so anxious to criticize Obama for anything that you can dream up. With respect to Obama's comments that he had not heard Rev. Wright's comments that were being played over and over on the networks, he said that he did not. Those were not the same comments that he was referring to when he said that he heard him make comments that he considered inappropriate. I am a Clinto supporter, but I believe that putting incorrect negative information out there can only hurt the party. If she wins the nomination, as I hope that she does, then she is going to need the support of Obama and his people to win the general election. Let us bring some reason to this. Tearing him down does not help the party overall, and it may give the republicans something to use against us. Have you and the others who rant and rave either about Obama or Clinton considered the effects of this. Remember that the other party is reading your blogs as well.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. WAYNE

    Obama has had it easy up to now. Now that the heat is on, he's begining to break. If he thinks he's under pressure now, how will he handle the pressure as Commander in Chief?

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Belle

    He was so arrogant for so long, of course he is shaken up. He never expected the media to scrutinize him. Looks like he's blaming everyone but himself. And to lamely bring up the war...again? Makes me think of how Guiliani brought up 9/11 every chance he got.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Love your neighbor

    "He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone." It is interesting how many people are talking about Pastor Wright's hate, and yet I feel the hate in their e-mails. There is a lot of hate coming out in this campaign. And that is a double standard. Everybody needs to check out his/her own heart. Hate is hate whether it is delivered by a black pastor or a white Hilary support.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Fred

    As an independent voter, Barack lost me yesterday. He did not distance himself from his pastor nor his church, and instead offered excuses for them. He cannot be a "healer" if he tolerates & approves of these extreme views. I believe we are just beginning to discover who Barack really is.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. bwlib

    joe (comment 2) can you not read or listen? He didn't lie...he still maintains he hadn't heard those two sermons (indeed it's been proven that he was in Miami for one and they've proven the other). He said in his speech that he has heard controversial remarks in the past but so have many people.You act like he made the remarks.Why are you so stuck on this instead of the message of his speech yesterday and instead of his message instead of that of Rev. Wright as if you're being asked to vote for Rev. Wright. You better worry about GW Bush lying to you about war or Clinton's lying in office, or Rev. Falwell's rhetoric and advising past presidents, etc. and not focus on individuals these candidates may know. You fall for any silly distraction.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Parvin will need to look back at the QA session in which Obama was asked about Rev Wright's horrible rhetoric. He was aked whether he was in church during that particular taped sermon and he said no although he became aware of it when he started his campaign. Now he was asked later whether he was aware of any other sermons that had controversial tones and he said yes. He also pointed out that he told the Rev he did not agree with that. And early on in his campaign, he has said publicly that he did not agree with some views held by Rev Wright. The question was whether he was in "that" sermon and he said he was not.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. John

    Yep this is getting good now. Time to put the women and children to bed (this means you Hillary and Obama) and get this election going.

    McCain wins in a landslide in November because the dems can't get their house in order.

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. pat

    Good speech but OBAMA you did lie to us on Friday , then had a different version of what you were aware of on Monday. CHANGE ??? Sounds like politics as usual to me.I think come NovemberI will vote for a candidate who chooses better advisors!

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Ron Paul supporter

    If you dont like the man, just say it using what someone else said as a "excuse' is weak. He lied and, so did Scooter Libby, Bill Clinton, Don Imus the list goes on and on, we all make mistakes.

    " He who has not sinned, cast the first stome"!

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. Curtis

    Joe, he said he had not heard the comments from the video clips playing on the news because he did not attend church on those days. Nobody ever said he hadn't been in the guy's sermons...

    March 19, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. nomfundo

    well ldont see how obama lied to anyone ,what he only did was to shed light on the problem that america still faces today and thats racism from both sides...

    Anywere who said half white and half black people are black....It must have been a white person...Its funny how far this race thing has gone....l never hear cnn referring to hillary Clinton as the european-american white hillary but l constantly hear you guys referring to Obama as african american .You make it sound as though being black and african is curse .

    Obama told the truth and people may hate him for it but the truth will always conquer.When l look back neither white or black are true americans but the native just suck it coz america is what it is today coz of all races involved

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Mark

    So Obama gave a speech in which he summarized racism in America in broadest, most generic terms. He personalized it by comparing private chats with his grandmother to the public inciting of hatred to a group of 8,500 (not counting the DVD sales). In the end he drew oh so insightful conclusion that racism is bad and we still have a lot of work to do...What am I missing? In what way is this so called "masterpiece" speech not a mediocre freshman essay?

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Ann

    Hillary lied about NAFTA and her "foreign policy experience".. Check out her records.. Nothing but hand shakes smiles and visiting foreign attractions..

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. jvd

    Why is Hilary Clinton asking Obamam about re- votes in Florida and Michigan? The democrats in those states violated party rules and should pay. What is un-american is to delibarately ignore rules and expect special consideration.

    By the way, Obama's speech was great and instructive about the crucible of race in the US. It is worth noting that white politicians have rarely if ever repudiated or discussed the utterances of the pastors from the moral majority with the coded words about blacks and non-whites masquareding as concerns for a restrictive Christian culture. Does anyone recall this much uproar over Jerry Falwell's comments after 9/11 about God turning letting the US be punished because of gays, the UCLA, and other liberal folks?

    I am a black male and well aware that neither my education, erudition, active catholic life, 26 years of marriage, commitment to my 3 children and my spouse, entrepreneurship, good grooming, etc. exempt me from being followed in stores by security guards or from my white peers and colleagues subtly questionning my abilities.

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. barb in minneapolis

    Good idea raf. I'm cool with Michigan and Florida seceding from the Union. In fact, Michigan and Florida and Hillary Clinton can form their own perfect Union. Problem solved.

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. reg

    Florida and Michigan knew the rules. They broke them, and therefore they should not have delegates. Sorry, but if we let them revote or do something of the sort it will set a precedent and other states will push primaries up in the next election cycle. Don't blame the DNC or Obama, blame your party leaders in your respective states. They put your rights at risk. Sorry, we need to let this go.

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. JpJ

    "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly challenged Barack Obama to agree to new primaries in Michigan and Florida on Wednesday and said it was "wrong, and frankly un-American" not to have the two delegations seated at the Democratic National Convention"

    Where was her anger and outrage at the time they were striped of their delegates? Is it only now that she needs them, that they matter? She agreed not to campaign in either state and also agreed to have her name removed from the ballot in Michigan only to "forget" to file the paperwork. Was it "wrong and un-American" then or only now that they are her last hope?

    March 19, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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