March 25th, 2008
08:03 PM ET
9 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. A Voter

    Pastor Wright wouldn't be Hillary's pastor. That job is taken by Al Sharpton.

    March 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Chanda_Cincinnati Ohio

    Exactly who is her Pastor? I have never seen heard about her or Bill in church unless it was a photo op. I think it is incredibly foolish of America to whittle the 30 + years of Wrights ministry down to the three or four sound bites the MEDIA chooses to play. If anyone caught the complete transcript of the post 9/11 sermon you would see that some things were taken out of context. But...its easier for some Americans to believe that Wright is a racists and that there was absolutely no truth in any of his comments. We love to believe that this country has no flaws. It is that mindset that has us hated by so many on the world stage. Obama has denounced the statements..he did not say them in the first place, and quite frankly I wish this race could get back to the issues at hand. I thought Hillary had taken the high road on this issue, but after it came out today she LIED about her oh so dangerous Bosnia experience, I guess she had to hurry up and shift the focus. Truth be told, the democratic party is so divided, I don't think either of them can win in November. IF the situation was reversed, and Obama was behind 100+ delegates, the DNC would have tried their best to put a hault to his bid for the nomination.

    March 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. jane

    Senator Clinton's remarks are thoughtful and to the point. I agree with her.

    March 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Rock

    Give it up!!!!! You lose

    March 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Cindy

    Ok, at least she finally said something.

    It makes sense for her to say what she's saying. It's the only logical answer. Her silence about the historical significance of Obama's speech is also logical.

    The only person with real guts on this issue... is Mike Huckabee.

    March 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. sacto joe

    Senator Clinton, you have just crossed the line. What I'd like to know is: When was it that you decided to become a Republican?

    March 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Andrea

    Give me a break! We are supposed to believe that she would have left a church based on what the pastor said, explosive or not, on a couple of occasions but she didn't leave her husband after he repeatedly cheated on her!

    She is such a liar. I am so tired of her saying anything to get elected. It is time for the DNC to start pressuring her to leave. She is just hurting the party.

    March 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. Michael from Toronto

    It's about time she said something about this whole mess.

    March 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Monika

    Hillary can you help me with this? Is this my dog sitting next to me or is it a sniper? Please help me!

    March 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. Derrick Martin

    I have listened to the the full text of Rev. Wright speeches and cannot hear were he is preaching hate against whites or the United States of America. Furthermore the church does a lot of good for people socially. What ever happened to separtion of church and state?

    March 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. scbrown

    I and America vomited listening to Obama's pastor.

    March 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. Scott, Bethlehem, PA

    What does this have to do with the issues at hand?

    March 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. California Independent

    He would never have been mine. I left a church for much less.

    If it isn't Clinton, McCain '08

    March 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Dawn Matthews, Pennsylvania she has a comment regarding the Reverand Wright comments....conveniently as she said she happened to MISSPEAK REGARDING BEING UNDER SNIPER FIRE IN BOSNIA....WHAT A COINCIDENCE!!...I used to support Hillary...but it is clear ....she will not hesitate to lie...but come on..this lie is sooo obvious...YOU DON'T FORGET BEING UNDER SNIPER FIRE !!! YOU JUST DONT!!! SHE LIED TO EMBELLISH HER FOREIGN POLICY RECORD...AND FORGOT IT WAS ON VIDEOTAPE...SHAME ON YOU HILLARY CLINTON..remember it was you who just went on and on about how much words today in Greensburg, PA you say "THEY WERE JUST WORDS"....Which one is it? Words matter or they dont? Liar Liar, pants on fire!!!! SHAME ON YOU HILLARY !!! CLINTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. Carlo

    The fact that she is bringing Wright back up after Obama submitted his tax returns after her campaign demanded them (and they haven't even submitted theirs yet) makes me wonder even more whether or not she and her campaign had a hand in the situation in the first place. One thing is for sure: she is in NO position to take the high ground on anything.

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. TEX

    Who believes the queen of spin and "misspeak"? The American public sees her last desperation gasp.

    Give us a break!

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Nathan

    Senator Clinton will do absolutely anything to get the nomination, even if it means completely destroying any chance that a Democrat can win in the fall.

    Can she just take the high road and campaign on the issues? Of course not.

    She is a grotesque public figure, more concerned about attaining power than the issues.

    Is there really a need for her to continue to tarnish Obama's image? Are we that myopic in this country that instead of discussing real issues, we have to focus on what someone's pastor said? I thought we had separation of church and state.

    Frankly, Hillary, I don't want to know who your pastor is, and I don't want to know why he advised you to stay with your cheating husband. You are not a woman I would want any girl to look up to.

    ENough already with Hillary's dirty politics. There is nothing this woman does or says that is authentic, and everyone knows it. It's all a game to her, and we're sick of her.

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. FredB

    No one can be held responsible for what Rev. Wright will say or do.
    But for the Clinton's they will accept money from the Fanjul bros. who are responsable for taking advantage of black in the caribean.
    Hillary's so called political experience is really a big mispoke.
    We have proof of that now with her trip to Bosnia and the cause of the
    Northeast Blackout of Aug.14 2003.

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Jose


    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |

    Cannot trust OBAMA..I once supported him but he has made statements that are completly false..

    He has no stance on so many issues.. He is on vacation while she is working for America..

    Must be using all the extra money his MICHELLE made at a "non profit" hospital..or Tony Rezko giving them a treat

    Hillary Clinton 08

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Judd

    funny how she originally stated that she had no comment and that this was a problem that the Obama campaign had to deal with on its own, but after she is caught LYING she decides to go foward and make a statement. Same old Clinton.

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. the truth

    thank God she's my candidate...

    "while we of course must protect our right of free expression, it should not be used as a license or an excuse to demean or humiliate our fellow citizens."

    AMEN. You should've left, Obama... and you know it.

    March 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. vjh

    Last week I really thought HRC was being gracious and sympathetic when she stated "no comment". How ironic, she was caught in yet another lie, now she has a comment re: Pastor Wright-maybe as a distraction? I'm sorry, I cannot in good conscientiousness bring myself to vote for this evil person in November, if god forbid she is the democratic nominee.

    March 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. p scott

    For all those who say Obama is destroying the Democratic party I say let's nominate Hillary. When she receives 10% of the African American vote and 10% of the new registered voters and 5% of the youth vote I suppose you will be happy. I will be because maybe she and Bill will ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. When will we be able to write the end to the Clinton story becuase I for one am sick of them?

    March 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Frances

    Hillary, you're still lying!! How can America believe what you'll do anymore. We don't know what you would have done with a pastor OF YOURS......Why would you take your daughter to a country that you knew was dangerous! You also but this same lie in your book. Give up Hillary. it's time for the Dems to have an honest person in charge. Go Barack!

    March 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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