March 25th, 2008
08:03 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton: Wright would not have been my pastor


Clinton criticized Obama's pastor Tuesday, her first direct comments on the matter. (AP Photos)

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton would have long disassociated herself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright if she was a member of his church, the Democratic presidential candidate said Tuesday - the first time she or her campaign has commented directly on the issue that has swirled around rival Barack Obama's campaign in recent weeks.

"I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said in a press conference in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The comments came hours after the New York senator made similar comments to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in an editorial board interview. (Watch Clinton's comments)

"You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend," she told the paper. Clinton also repeated those remarks in the press conference.

An Obama campaign spokesman said Clinton's comments were part of a "transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia."

“The truth is, Barack Obama has already spoken out against his pastor’s offensive comments and addressed the issue of race in America with a deeply personal and uncommonly honest speech," Obama Campaign Press Secretary Bill Burton said. "The American people deserve better than tired political games that do nothing to solve the larger challenges facing this country."

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Peter Hamby

soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Terri

    Yeah, nice try Hillary! Obama has already disagreed with rev. wright's words, now what about yours. YOU BIG FAT NASTY LIAR! You think people don't see right through this attempt to get the heat off of your fat butt? You are a sore looser! If rev. wright is such a terrible person, you need to join his church. You would make a better fit there than Obama. YOU ARE COLD BUSTED WITH YOUR LIES! YOU TRIED TO BLOW OFF SINBAD WHEN HE SAID YOUR STATEMENTS WHERE NOT THE TRUTH AND IT WORKED FOR A WHILE. BET YOU WISH YOU COULD BLOW OFF THE VIDEO.

    March 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. justpaul

    Finally! Some real meat to this campaign. Hillary has what is at the least a legitimate issue with Obama (denunciation or not, he still spent almost 20 years taking spiritual guidance from a racist nut-job pastor) and Obama has that rarest of rarities, a Clinton caught red-handed in a cold-blooded lie (she really might want to re-consider her "misspoke" excuse given how easily that could become an Obama campaign tagline). Maybe next they'll actually discuss their alleged policy differences so that the few Democratic voters left to vote in a primary can make an informed decision, unlike all the rest who have had to make theirs based on empty claims of experience and oratorical skills alone.

    March 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Alex

    Hillary, you lie like you breath.

    March 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Cleo

    Just want to see if you post my last two posts went in the garbage...What is Hillary to do if asked about Wright? Not answer? Come on.....I can't believe all the Hillary bashing going on here...Obama is all talk......

    March 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Bruce

    People need to go on YouTube and listen to Pastor James David Manning, she attacks Obama and praises Hillary Clinton with the an even harsher tone. Has she denounced and rejected his support. He calls Obama all these kind of names.

    March 25, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. lh

    Actually Kim, KY,

    I do think that if Obama was asked to comment on "Lewinsky-gate", or "hitewater-gate", he would not answer, or he would gracefully steer the conversation elsewhere

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. jan

    You bet I'd leave..................
    You can tell that Obama and his campaign are following in the path of Obama's pastor with their hate rhetoric.
    Obama has played the victim in this campaign many times, and has not hesitated to label anybody and everybody "racist" that got in his path of what he wants.
    Pastor Wright is NOT going to play well with many throughout this country

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. JP


    As one of the comments has been stated. When the question was asked, you could have simply said, "I rather not speak on this subject". But, you in the heat now, and CNN is not any better. It is so sad with the unkindness that is going on. I tell you what, after the election is done, I'm done with CNN....some of you thrieve on this TV News show love to gossip. Get a life!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. DebDeb your job.

    Senator Clinton was asked a direct and personal question, and she answered it with thought and grace.

    You really are losing all credibility. Even MSNBC reported it accurately.

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Yea right. Reverend Wright was certainly good enough to get an invite to the Clinton Whitehouse and a hardy handshake from the former president himself. How can anyone believe anything Hillary Clinton says.


    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Cheryl Wilson

    So sad, too bad. Signs of a very desperate woman. Doesn't she get it? The numbers are not there for her. She's losing this election and there's no way she can win. Obama out maneuvered her and there's no way she can catch up. So, she resorts to desperate tactics. My goodness, if she wasn't a politician, she would be the type of girl that would ring a guy's cell phone (who's trying to avoid her) a couple hundred times. You guys know the type.

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Ric

    After 20 years Obama finally addressed Rev Wright. A man he equates like family with his grandmother. Like Hillary said, you cannot choose family. A pastor you can choose to reject.

    Obama '08 = racist church, anti American

    March 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. clouse

    I guess when the polls strat just create drama.

    What a woman

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Boong

    It's great Hillary borught up this issue at the end of Obama vacation. Obama is taking vacation for excuse may be people will forget about his relation with Rev. Wright.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. TC

    Obama's preacher is lucky he doesn't live in a third world country. Or, he will be charged sedition. Mrs. Clinton is right. Yes, I am a believer of Mrs. Clinton. Our biggest problem is the present economic disastrous situation, and it will take another Clinton to balance it and have the pleasure of having surplus money on her second term.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Misty

    OK Hillary: In the same breadth you cannot pick your parents but you can leave your husband if he cheats more than 4 times: Sometimes while you were in the same house– the White house.

    So lay off Barack Obama– he can walk on water.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Vince - Phoenix

    your outrage at women for not blindly rallying around "HRC" has me wondering 'your' "connection" to women.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. -K-

    Did she disown Bill for being such a degrading person to women as the President. Amazaingly no women rights speechs, on the explotation of women and the usage of power by a her husband. Yeah speak on that since you have stood up for womens rights, but knowingly put those issues to the side when it's your husband. I see they have a Chicago Musem in Harlem. How stupid any HRC supporter should feel to think that Bill/J.Wright shakeing hands is just by chance. Please everbody knows that to get support where do you go? Church which explains how the Clintons actually know J. Wrigt on a personal level more than they are saying. I bet they asked him to endorse/bless the Musem because of the big Church affilation.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Jack - Miami

    She had to divert attention from her blatant lies on her foreign experiences. Well done! Also kudos to CNN for throwing her the "softball" question to take the heat off of her. CNN = Clinton News Network!

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. E.C.Rossi

    Obama speech on race was magnificent ! However, the issue
    of Rev Wright will not go away. His rhetoric was too inflammatory
    and if Obama heard it without reacting, he may be unelectable.

    March 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Troy

    The comments made by Obama's is not the big deal Hillary and the media are trying to make it. I have heard ministers say many controversial remarks and never thought that they were out of line or that it reflected directly on the congregation.

    Stop playing gotcha politics and let's focus on health care, education, the Iraq War and other issues that are far more important than what somebody (who is not even running for president!) said years ago.

    March 25, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. virginia

    he wouldn't have been your pastor. you would pick the pastor who would advanced your political career the most. just like you picked a husband, and chose to stay with him for career purposes.

    here's an idea: why not choose your pastor according to opinion polls? and make sure to dump him as soon as he is inconvenient.

    have you ever chosen with your heart?

    March 25, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Jack - Miami

    Kudos to CNN for throwing her the "softball" question to take the heat off of her. CNN = Clinton News Network!

    March 25, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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