March 25th, 2008
08:03 PM ET
10 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. allen

    leave it to the democrats to lose in a year when they should win. HRC is a good woman and if she is the nominee (which should not happen) i will support her because I AM A DEMOCRAT. however, her attacks on Obama today really surprised me. i thought she was better than that. i guess when the press starts focusing on you, you have to change to subject. I don't agree with the repubs on everything, but the one thing i love about them is that they don't destroy their own and that is what democrats have been doing from Geraldine farrero to Tony McPeek.
    HRC i am really ashamed of you with this one!

    March 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Betty N. Brown

    Obamas choice to stay in that church and subject his children to that racism and to keep the hate going tells me all i need to know.

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

    So Hillary spread the truth a little...Obama LIED about not being at his Church when his Pastor spoke hateful words, then in his "Speech" he said he was there. THEN he lied about NAFTA and Talking to Canada.


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

    Nice to see CNN advancing another non-story. Also great to see them have a news story about Clinton's Bosnia incident, yet they creatively managed to include Obama in on the story.

    Oh well.

    March 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Kim, KY

    She was asked the question and she answered it. Do you think Obama wouldn't have answered the question...he wouldn't have waited to be asked, he would have commented immediately. I think it was very big of Hillary not to get in this mess before hand but now I don't blame her for commenting given all that Obama's camp has said about her over the last few days. I really hate what's happening to the Dem party but I am so sick of hearing how "negative" Hillary's camp is when it's Obama's camp that is saying the most mean, negative and totally irrelevant comments imaginable, ie. "blue dress". It's getting ridiculous but it seems Hillary always gets the blame...but she's a tough lady she can handle it...I just wonder if Obama can handle what the GOP will throw at him this fall if he does manage to get the nomination...Can anybody answer why he wouldn't accept a total revote in CA & MI??? What's he afraid of?

    March 25, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Optixmom

    My brother and sister-in-law left their synagogue because their Rabbi was using hateful language about Muslims and Christians during some of their worship services. They felt deep disappointment that anyone representing a congregation of worshipers would denigrate anyone for any reason. My immediate family is Episcopalian and both my brother's and my family believe we go to Church or Temple to worship God, and to learn forgiveness, learn to see past differences, and work toward a common good. They didn't want their children exposed to hateful language, so they left. It was not an easy change, but it was a necessary one.

    I don't understand why anyone would deliberately subject their children to teachings of hate, especially at Church. I had reservations on Obama's leadership skills from the beginning, and this set of events with his Pastor only adds more reservations for his judgment and parenting skills.

    March 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Artola

    She is an opportunist. This was an opportunity to shift the negative attention off of her and onto Obama. If you cannot see that then you are as blind as a bat! She stayed with Bill, because she knew she wanted this opportunity to be president. Who is her pastor? How often does she attend church? Where ever she's going I hope the pastor does a sermon on one of the commandments she's seems to be slipping on – Thou Shalt Not Lie. What the heck is all this business about "misspoke?" She LIED!!! Call it like it is. She told the same lie twice with a big grin and a giggle to go with it. If you people vote in this woman – then "shame on you" for being so blind!

    Lastly, I really wish the newscasters would be a little more truthful. Obama did not sit in that church for 20 years listening to Wright preach like that Sunday after Sunday. There is no way that church would have grown to that size and reputation with him preaching that way for 20 years. He was invited to the white house by BILL CLINTON to a prayer breakfast! His horrible sermons are only within the last few 2 or 3 years at which time Obama wasn't even regulary attending. Is there any honesty in politics?

    March 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. vjh

    To Gary, you posted "ALL you woman ,I should say children should be proud to see a woman president ,instead of slamming her.If HRC dosnt get elected because of jealous woman ,there wont be another chance for a woman to be equal as a Leader.All you Clinton haters,it will backfire on you.What goes around comes around." I am a Dem women who would love nothing more to see a women as a Pres, especially having a daughter of my own. However, Hillary is not 'the' women. She stands by a cheating, lying husband, what kind of role model is she for her daughter ? If there is any backfiring to be had, it won't be towards me or any other women not voting for HRC, it will be towards HRC herself.

    March 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. j. quinn

    The funny thing is that Rev. Jeremiah Wright was a staunch support and friend of the Clintons during their earlier campaign, until the Clintons seemed to have fallen short fo their promises..

    March 25, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Sayrah

    Hillary is hurting herself and the party with many, many supporters by keeping such controversies going. She is certainly acting like a monster. I would never trust her. I think voters are now attune to her act when she puts on her pitiful face.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Matthew

    Transparent political games or not, Hillary is speaking the truth on this one. Obama's "eloquent" speech means nothing if he refuses to take a stand here. He cannot have it both ways. The fact is, there ar eany number of churches he could be attending. Why this one?

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Ted

    This is getting old. Hillary Clinton really is not in a position to lecture anyone on questionable alliances. By the way, where are those tax returns?

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. HomoSapien

    CNN – she is trying to distract you from the sniper fire story and you are biting. Where are all the real journalists??

    This Wright issue is dead.

    She LIED about Bosnia. Multiple times. It was not a "misspoken" phrase. It was a prepared speech!

    A well planned lie.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. PA

    She did not just answer a question!!

    She talked about this BEFORE being asked a question!

    She said this earlier today in a prepared speech!

    She brought this up to change the subject from her lies!!

    Don't let her change the subject CNN!

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Dobalina

    To those who continue to insist Obama is an agent of racism: are you really that mis-informed? Are you just trying to provoke a reaction of sorts?

    The undisputible fact is that Obama shares both white and black genes – as the majority of the planet does. Do you suggest that Obama abhorrs himself and the family that raised him?

    You are obviously referring to Wright's comments. I urge you to look closely at what wright says. Not once does he make derogatory remarks about people of any race. What he does do is suggest that white people manipulated black people for their own selfish gain – which is also a fact that cannot be disputed. The way in which this was carried out is the part that's in question – and I'm not sure that he's really that far off.

    Concerning America. I will go further than the reverends statements by saying that on September 11th I was approached by a U.S. Marine. I voiced my opinion to him that America has reeped what it has sewn – much to his dismay. This is not anti-American, or upatriotic. As a person that has lived all around the world, I gained this view by understanding the policies that America has enacted throughout its history concerning foreign policy. After all, it was the United States that initiated that first "Sept. 11th" – Hiroshima. To quote a silly song – that really is quite serious "freedom is not free, it costs a hefty f-ing fee". And sometimes the creditors come calling.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Lee

    Well frankly, I wouldn't have sex in our nation's Oval Office. And I wouldn't be married to a man who cheated on me with someone in the Oval Office, and then publicly lied about it. I wouldn't be married to a man who humiliated me on the world stage. I wouldn't lie about my role in NAFTA. I wouldn't lie about myself and my child being in the line of sniper gunfire, just to gain a vote. So, frankly I'm quite relieved that Hillary and I go to different churches, because I'm extremely uncomfortable lying. And clearly, she is quite comfortable with it. The Clintons are a match made in heaven–both pathological liars who will say anything to get what they feel they are entitled to.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. S callahan

    I took the time to listen to Trinity's Church's web site recordings of Rev. Wrights sermons, and frankly if you listened to the whole thing you can put all that was said in context and reflect that the whole sermon was not a hate sermon. Perhaps Hillary hasn't gone to Utube lately. I would strongly suggest she does because she is speaking without the full knowledge of Rev. Wrights sermon. The fact is, perhaps it's time for confession because in the book i read though shall not lie or bear false wittness.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. jess

    cnn, please write about hillary about 'the family'

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Bill Turcottte

    All you guys ( I mean Guys ) at CNN do is pick on Hillary . She was asked a direct question and she anwser it . CNN needs to get off its high horse and start talking about Obama and Hillary view on the war , the housing market ect .. Can CNN not figure out a way to make the hard questions sexy . It seems all CNN can do bring up cheap gossippy news .

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Sarah, Upstate NY

    Oh, please. Both Hillary and Bill know Rev. Wright very well, and there are numerous pictures of Rev. Wright visiting the Clinton White House and sitting next to Mrs. Clinton at a prayer breakfast and so forth.

    This issue should be over and done with. For her to be using a relationship between Obama and the reverend to further her own ends, when SHE also knows the reverend quite well, is pretty disingenuous.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    This is one of the few things I can agree with the lady on.

    Rev. Wright–and his ethnocentric (rascist) twist on christianity demonstrates a whole new view for white people of how segregation by choice–is a chosen path for thousands of America's blacks.

    Who's prejudiced–not us white guys.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Means and Ends

    I can't believe she was able to even answer the editorial board questions, what with all the incoming sniper fire, mortar shells,and Bosnian special forces gunning for her. Man, she is one brave person.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. pat mcdevitt

    Why does cnn give Hillary Clinton so much air time? Compared to Barack Obama and John McCain, there just doesn't seem to be a balance. If Hillary is not speaking, her picture is in the background. Does Hillary's campaign pay cnn for this coverage?
    Thank you.

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Trina

    Obviously trying to distract the public from focusing on her blatant lie about "Sniper fire." Additionally, an attempt to distract the public from focusing on her reluctance to release her tax returns after Senator Obama has released his. Shame on you Hilary. This smacks of desperation!

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. jim

    wow, deflect any questions about her sniper meltdown to the tried and true days of Wright. She really shouldn't get into the argument of pastors as her's isn't the model of consistency either. Remember when this campaign was about issues?

    March 25, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10