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

Photo shows President Clinton, controversial Obama minister


(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. Dawn Matthews

    I believe the Clintons have a lot to hide. Time will tell as more of those documents are released from the archives. I did support Bill Clinton when he was in office, and until recently, I was torn between Obama and Hillary Clinton. But in light of recent incidents, I really don't trust her anymore. I do believe she will do anything, and I mean anything for a win! Whatever happened to ethics? So, therefore, I am a Pennsylvanian awaiting April 22nd so that I may vote for OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT!!!

    March 21, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. White man from AZ

    I'm an Obama supporter, and I just have to say... who cares?
    A. Singer is right, the president takes pictures with more people than he can probably remember.
    B. Jeremiah Wright is not the hate-monger everyone is making him out to be. If you watched the sermons that CNN, MSNBC, etc. took their snippets from, you'd realize the "controversial" comments were completely out of context.
    Do your own research before froming your opinions. Don't mindlessly rely on the media. Remember: they're tring to make money.

    March 21, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Hillary supporter

    What's the point of running this story?

    March 21, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. JJ in NY

    I guess the chickens have come home to roost in Bill's. coop .

    March 21, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. LAURA

    I guess that just goes to prove that the Clintons are not the racists that some Obama supporters are making them out tobe.

    March 21, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Steve

    CNN thanks again for the great reporting. You have somehow managed to link Hillary Clinton to something that she had nothing to do with. At least you are consistent.

    March 21, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |


    March 21, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Adam

    One irrelevant breakfast with hundreds of other people or twenty year in this awful man's pew? Hmm...sounds like the Obama camp is throwing anything to deflect all the negative attention – too late, Obama! Check out the latest polls – you're falling in everyone!

    March 21, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. exobama08'

    W.O.W! I can not believe this. I have finally seen the true colors of Barack. A man who speaks of change is pulling the same old politically tricks to get the nomination. I was a support but, now I am not. The last several weeks have shown Barack Obama is nothing but the same. So if I got to vote for the same, I want someone who has some knowledge and experience leading this country. I am disappointed in you Barack for lifting the hopes and dreams of our country just to find out that it’s all talk. How could you and your campaign release a photo that proves nothing, except you are now the desperate one? The Clinton campaign did not attack or challenge you on your relationship with the pastor. So how could your campaign release a photo that insinuates a relationship between Pastor Wright and the Clintons? I am pretty sure that the Clintons do not have a 20 year relationship with the pastor. There is a difference between a meet and greet and having your kids baptized.

    Sorry Barack no more Obama08’

    Now Hilary08’

    March 21, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Poly

    And this does what for Obama?

    Nothing, unless Bill Clinton sat and listened to Jeremiah Wright for 20 years.

    Another attempt by Obama to minimize his own egregious mistakes, and it doesn't matter because he won't win the general.

    March 21, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. JKH

    Is this supposed to be controversial? If so, I'm not getting it. Wasn't this pre-911 and pre-GD America? Now if you were to report that Bill Clinton carried on a 20 year relationship with this man, knew intimately his views and teachings, sat by and did nothing about him poisoning the minds of a large congregation and the minds of his very own child – then, of course, I could see the controversy in it.

    March 21, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Tamara, Chespeake, VA

    This is why the Clinton campaign has been so quiet about it. It seems as if people are taking this WAY too far. If we all were responsible for every comment that anyone around us made, we would all be in big trouble. Let's stop the negative campaigning and get on with this election; and by the way, the media isn't helping at all by stooping to the level of the National Enquirer.

    March 21, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Mandy

    So, this is news? I've seen presidents meet all kind of whack-o's. doesn't mean they all served as their spiritual and moral leaders though. like for obama.

    March 21, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Waaaiit a minute

    hahahahaha This is too good to be true! They play the race and once again it appears to be back firing on them. Those people are too divisive to unite and lead the country. In the end, this week is looking up for Obama who has been receiving fire from all angles. I wonder what the Clintons will come up with to explain this one. Even Bill Richardson is switching camp. I guess that superbowl party they had down in new mexico didnt rely suffice to sway him to Billary!

    GOBAMAGO 08!

    March 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. NOBama

    It's a photo – it's not a 20 year relationship to the church!

    I have a photo with President Clinton – does that make him a Vikings fan because I am?


    CLINTON 2008

    March 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. bob

    did clinton have a 20 year spiritual relationship with rev. wright

    like obama did?

    March 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Thunderous

    So Rev. Wright was invited to this event, sat and chatted with 99 other religious officials. Surely someone knew of his sermons. It's interesting that Se. Clinton did not mention her or her husband's knowledge this man. What made them comfortable to the Clinton's and the others at the event then that is so different from who he is now?

    March 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. IJ, Edmonton, Alberta

    I suppose telling the truth is what qualifies one to be the best political team on TV. Other news media had reported that Obama's team sent out this photo to media houses but CNN is telling us something different. What does CNN really want us to believe and what is the objective for including your name in the bias media list?
    Any news or anyone that says anything different from your endorsed Dem nominee is distorted (news) or not published (opinion).

    Questions on the racial chanting of Obama's pastor still remains to be answered, which both Obama's team and the Liberal press wants to sweep under the carpet. The problem with sweeping things under the carpet is that they will continue to hurt you—and may come up at the worst of times. I am a black woman who would want either Obama or Clinton win the general election and will very much like to see the dream ticket come true with either of them on top.
    This is a rare opportunity that the democrats have to regain the white house and it will be a big disservice to USA if the Dems miss it again this time.
    The core question is " with this pastors ranting circulating and will continue to circulate to the general election,is Obama the best choice for the Dems? Will he be able to defeat Mccain? How can he be running on judgement and yet exhibits such poor ones on patriotism and nation building? A uniter in this church for 20 years? There is a lot of questions begging for anwsers out there and the so called best political team on TV are not even asking them. What an irony?

    March 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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