April 28th, 2008
02:05 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain: Obama and Wright do not share views

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/22/mccain.tour/art.selma.ap.jpg caption=" McCain has begun to publicly address the Wright controversy."] MIAMI (CNN) - Despite his newfound willingness to make political hay out of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, John McCain insisted three separate times on Monday he does not believe Barack Obama shares Wright’s “extremist views.”

McCain, campaigning in South Florida, faced a series of questions about Wright from reporters shortly after the pastor made a defiant public appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, in which he defended his church and condemned the national media.

“I’ve said again and again, I do not believe that Sen. Obama shares Rev. Wright’s extremist views which he has stated, whether it be the United States Marine Corps or the flag or what,” McCain said. “I am leaving that issue to a dialogue between Sen. Obama and American people.”

In another press conference held Sunday, McCain broached the topic of Wright unprompted for the first time, despite previous suggestions that the Wright issue would be an out-of-bounds topic in the presidential race.

McCain said his shifting stance on Wright was justified because Obama told “Fox News Sunday” that the controversy surrounding his ex-pastor was “a legitimate political issue.”

The presumptive Republican nominee repeated that explanation on Monday.

“As I said before I am of the belief that Sen. Obama does not reflect the extremist statements that Rev. Wright has given,” McCain said. “I have no comments on it, but I also understand why millions of Americans may, as Sen. Obama said yesterday, view this as a political issue.”

However, McCain appeared to change his position on whether state Republican parties or downballot GOP candidates should exploit the Wright issue in local campaigns.

The Arizona senator last week told the North Carolina GOP not to run an ad linking the state’s Democratic candidates for governor - both Obama supporters - to Rev. Wright. But on Monday, McCain said he would no longer weigh on such matters.

“I will not be a referee,” he said.

soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. D Frank

    Wow!!! How some folks miss the point.

    The issue is not whether Obama believes in the same thinks and opinions of Rev. Jerimiah Wright, Because I do not think that Obama believes in all of those ideas and opinions but certainly he must support some of them after 20 years as a member of the Church.

    The issue and question is about Obama's JUDGEMENT and CREDIBILITY. For someone who is a professional and well educated man. how could Obama support a Pastor/Mentor and Church that supports and promotes racist dialogue, thinking and preaching from a man who is supposed to bring people together in the name of GOD??????

    Where is OBAMA's CREDIBILITY and good JUDGEMENT when he supported this thinking for 20 years and then puts this man on his elction Campaign???

    These are the big ?????????

    April 28, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Mish

    Reverend Wright is an intelligent colorful controversial opinionated
    pastor with his own personal views and opinions
    In fact he is rather witty and maybe one of the best one liners I have ever heard lol
    having said all that tho, any person with intelligence and who doesnt have tunnel vision should know this pastor views are NOT the views and opinions of Senator Obama
    He cannot control his pastor...plain and simple
    however there are those with tunnel vision like certain pundits yes even on CNN who will play on this and make it look like a negativity
    for Senator Obama but intelligent people *know* the difference

    April 28, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Mike - Texas

    I don't know whether OBama shares his views or not, but the longer that Rev. Wright stays in the news, the weaker OBama's chances gets. It is almost like Rev. Wright is trying to torpedo OBama's chances to get elected.

    April 28, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Johhny C.

    McCain doesn't need to play dirty to beat Obama, Clinton does it for him.

    McCain is the only one even close enough to be prepared for the Presidency.

    Black-Americans for McCain '08!!!!!!

    April 28, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. Tony Z- MD

    McCain is doing the smart political moves. While Hillary is throwing Obama and the Democrats under the bus- he is just cuddling up to her base and the larger African-American base the Republican party would love to have.

    There is a saying. To know the man is to walk in his shoes. Rev. Wright shares the views of his generation. No different than White people who would not vote for Obama because of his color.

    Maybe McCain wants to leave it alone because of the soldiers bond. Something that neither Bush, Chaney, Clinton (Pres) can say.

    April 28, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Indiana will decide

    Rev Wright does not speak hate, he speaks the painful truth. I have no idea what it is like to come from a heritage that had it's humanity stripped away and treated like property, to be used and then discarded, who haven't been. I admire the strength that he displays and am humbled by it.

    Obama does not have the same experience as Rev Wright but he can identify with some of the struggle. It is someone with feet in two worlds who is uniquely qualified to build bridges.

    Obama is the one.

    April 28, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. mcWar

    ====Rev.Wright Speaks the Truth====

    April 28, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. Robert

    Go to any news network's front page and see how many negative verbs you can find in each headline. Reverend Wright is probably getting all of his ideas from the same people who won't shut up about him.

    April 28, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Linda

    At least Wright had the guts to let us know what he believes. What does John McCain believe?

    April 28, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Ron L


    While many of you may feel Rev. Wrights views are extremist, you need to step back and take a deep breath. Once you do that you will realize his ideas ARE NOT extremist what they are is PAINFULLY true!!

    America still has a bit of a race problem. Is it as bad as the 60's absolutely not. BUT it still EXISTS!! The Reverend is saying we NEED to address this issue HEAD-ON plain and simply.

    What has he pointed out that has many people in a tizzy?? That the American Government has done some VERY wrong and evil things to it's people as well as people around the world. The problem is the American public likes to try an ignore that it has happened and/or justify it.

    Here is just one example of what I mean..

    Black people have been in this country for over 300 years and just 40 years ago we began to see REAL opportunity. There are many books showing that institutionally Black children were held back not because they could not learn something but because there (white) teachers believed they could not learn it so they were never exposed to the opportunity.

    Did many of you know there use to be POST CARDS showing the hanging of Black people??

    While I don't think the the American government is behind Aids it is an HISTORICAL FACT that the U.S. Government PURPOSELY observed black men with syphillus just to observe what it did to their body...THINK ABOUT THAT for just a minute..A government watching it's people die with something it KNOWS they have a CURE for......

    WHY is it so important that Barack where a FLAG pin whe Hillary seldom does and I have often seen Sen. McCann go without one???

    If could give other examples but those a few observations that should be considered. We are a great nation, but we have done some pretty bad things in our history as well.

    Do not judge Barack based on what Reverend Wright says . THEY ARE NOT RELATED in any way or form. Rev. Wright is fulfilling his obligation to speak the truth as he sees it. Frankly, he is not concerned with whether Barack wins or LOSES. WHY you ask...


    This is a great opportunity to REALLY ADDRESS the race issue in America and just maybe get it behind us once and for all.


    April 28, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Steve

    It just proves the fact that John McCain is a straight shooter. Hillary is taking the democratic party down with her. It's time for the super-delegates to weigh in so Obama and McCain can have at it. I think they both will treat each other with respect. Hillary care's for no one but herself, she respects herself peroid.



    April 28, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Erick

    I cannot believe the selfishness of Clinton or the apparent short sightedness of her and her electoral base. After all, the general election is for much more then just a president, and once the elected officials are in place it is not only the president to propose and develop public policy. Lets take a look at the senate races for instance. The seats that are expected to be competitive this year are OR, AK, CO, LA, ME, MN, NH, NM, NC, SD and VA. Look at these states and ask yourself which democratic presidential candidate would be the best down ticket in these states. With the exception of New Hampshire and New Mexico, Obama would undoubtedly be the better choice to attract votes for the down ticket senate races. Unfortunately for Clinton the rust belt states either do not have a senate race this year, or else, the races are not competitive.

    So what, some may ask. Well, democrats should be focusing on the good of the party at this point. This does NOT mean that Clinton should drop out, however. No, indeed she should stay in the race until Obama is the official nominee, but her campaign should be one of a positive message. From now on she should only speak positively about Obama and collectively they should use the media attention on their competitive race to focus on their contrasts with the GOP. Clinton should be building Obama up and not tearing him down! Democratic voters should be rewarding positive campaigning and helping Clinton along when she is supportive of the party and voting heavily against her when she resorts to the politics of old. Unless, of course, if Americans want to continue a politics of negativity, which I find hard to believe.

    So why should, or would, Clinton basically agree to concede the presidential race by talking Obama up and ceasing her recent style of tearing him down? Simply put she should be focusing on what’s best for the party, the best for her and the best for the policies that she wants to push forth for the American people. A strong presidential candidate in Obama has the potential to put all those competitive senate races into play and the stronger Obama is as a candidate the better chance of winning those senate seats. A clean sweep would mean a 60-40 senate and with this kind of a potential senate composition Clinton should be focusing now on building Obama up to get this result and targeting on her concession prize, the Senate president pro tempore, if Robert Byrd would allow it for the good of the democratic party?

    By Clinton running a positive campaign, Obama would also have a much more secure shot at winning the presidential bid and taking control of the House of Representatives as president of America. Then with Clinton controlling the Senate the two would offer one of the most influential one two punches in the history of America. After all, 95% of their policy platform is identical and that is why this primary has come down to a competition of character and grit instead of what they will do for Americans – the latter is nearly identical! So, for sake of argument, lets look at Clinton’s most progressive propositions, Universal Health Care. Now, ask yourself, would Clinton have a better chance of achieving this as the Senate president pro tempore residing over a 60-40 senate, or as the President of a divided and fractured House of Representatives and a 54-46 senate? Why do we all act as if only presidents introduce bills? Surely a stronger, unified government would achieve Universal Health Care much more smoothly! Simply put, if Hillary wants what’s best for America, it is time for her to go positive!

    So to all the democrats reading this. Unify and Get out to vote, vote Clinton or vote Obama, that is not important, just vote to reward POSITIVE campaigning! Don’t let negativity dictate the tone of this race. When you talk to your fellow democrats contrast Clinton and Obama not with each other, but with GOP. Give them credit when they are positive and ignore them when they are negative.

    In November vote democrat!

    Thanks for reading!

    April 28, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Summer

    and this is why I will be voting for McCain if Clinton wins.

    April 28, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. corey walker

    jerimiah wright is causing racial divide across the nation i am a black man and i have to say mr wright is a racist

    April 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. no longer supporting clinton

    Well, at least mccain is telling the truth

    April 28, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. American Girl

    I am voting third party the dems and reps. are both messing up

    This campaign still shows how much race is still a problem in our nation. This is why even today we can't comprehend the sectarian issues in the middle east, specifically, we have issues at home we can not honestly deal with.

    "You can not deliver or liberate someone from something you yourself have not been delivered or liberated from."

    Blacks are asked to get over slavery, but Jews are never told to get over the holocoust.

    Whites are asked to keep apologizing for slavery and are constantly reminded of the shame of their ancestors.

    Native Americans are still relegated to reservations.

    Race is real america ard Senator Obama at least tried to say we need to talk about this in a serious tone. The race has turned into a joke with Rev, Wright, the Conservastive Right and Liberal Media all dancing for attention!

    Shame America, Shame on You

    April 28, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Jamie

    “I’ve said again and again, I do not believe that Sen. Obama shares Rev. Wright’s extremist views which he has stated, whether it be the United States Marine Corps or the flag or what,” McCain said.

    McCain is really something else... what did Wright say about the Marines or the flag???????
    As I understand it, Wright was a Marine.

    McCain pretends that he's not pushing this controversy further, but slips in these remarks.


    April 28, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. JC in SC

    Another moment of brilliance 😉

    April 28, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Steve

    Ron L,
    Don't be silly. One cannot be a ardent member of an ecclesial community for 20 years and not be at least in favor of the pastor's view. That is just not the American way. Wright is crazy. Just look at the difference between the tone of his speeches and "sermons" and his recent interview. It was like two different people. McCain is being very unwise by not pointing out his opponent's shortcomings in the hopes that people will like him. There is nothing wrong with pointing out the shortcomings of your opponent in politics- that is part of what it means to be an opponent. You disagree with what the other person believes is the right mode of leadership. Negative campaigning should be done, as long as it still respects the humanity of the opponent. We have come to believe this silly notion as a nation that criticizing someone is equal to judging them or dishonoring them. Obama talks a lot about change. Real change always includes criticism, challenges, and sacrifice. If he wants to prove his patriotism, let him change- wear a flag pin, and stop supporting Wright.

    April 28, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. oh plssss !

    Quote From RAPHAEL :
    "If we(Democrats) want any shoot of winning the Oval Office, Hillary is definately our candidate. The fact that Obama has the same ideoligical views as his pastor(Bitter small town Americans cling to guns and religion) is going to feed the Republicans with ammunition to win the presidency again."



    I SAY THAT THE FIRST STEP TOWARD HEALING IS TO RECOGNIZE THE DISEASE. If Hillary does not recognize that people in this country ARE BITTER, it prooves that she wont be one doing anything about it.


    April 28, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. Steve

    For your information, Wright compared our marines to the Roman soldiers who killed Christ and said there is no difference between the American flag and the flag of Al-Queda. Does this knowledge affect your opinion of McCain?

    April 28, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. JC in SC

    where's my previous post?

    April 28, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Mike

    Senator McCain,

    Think again. Read Obama's book. Read Obama's messages. The "theology" of Rev. Wright and the "policy" of Obama are virtually identical.

    April 28, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. chris

    Hope Mongering => Obama
    Fear Mongering => Hillary

    Which is a better leadership trait to you?

    April 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. Ian

    It's time for change. Unfortunately the majority of Americans will vote for Obama, Clinton, or McCain.

    See you in the food line.

    April 28, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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