May 22nd, 2008
05:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama looks to shore up Jewish support


Watch a clip of Sen. Obama's remarks in Boca Raton Thursday.

(CNN) - As Barack Obama courted Jewish voters in Florida Thursday, John McCain looked to resurrect the controversy over the Illinois senator’s former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright - who drew scrutiny earlier this year for comments he made in praise of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The presumptive Republican nominee was responding to fallout over his decision to reject Pastor John Hagee’s endorsement, because of remarks that seemed to suggest Adolf Hitler had been carrying out God’s will because his actions drove many Jews to return to Israel.

“I have said I do not believe Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright's extreme views,” said McCain in his statement rejecting Hagee’s backing. “But let me also be clear, Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual advisor, and I did not attend his church for twenty years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today.”

Obama immediately fired back, telling reporters McCain was unfairly implying Wright’s controversial remarks were somehow attributable to him.

“If you're in national politics, everybody you can find one or two people who have said offensive things, or done offensive things,” said Obama. “You know, John McCain is having to deal with… Hagee. Who said stuff that is mind-boggling.

“I don't attribute those statements to John McCain. Nobody thinks that McCain believes that stuff. And for McCain to then suggest that every single statement that was made by somebody is somehow attributable to me, is just wrong…. It's just not accurate.”

Obama visited a Boca Raton synagogue Thursday in a bid to shore up his support among Jewish voters, a crucial Democratic voting bloc. He stressed his support for Israel after a week of controversy over whether or not he would agree to unconditional negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the destruction of Israel.

Obama said again that he disagreed with former President Jimmy Carter’s decision to meet with Hamas and would only sit down with the group if they renounced terror and recognized Israel’s right to exist.

“I want to just repeat this because I know that there’s a lot of rumor mongering going around. People have been getting e-mails non-stop,” Obama told the crowd. “That’s why I reject the attempts by some of my opponents in this campaign to distort my position…. As president, I will do everything in my power to help Israel protect itself from these and other threats.”

The Republican National Committee, looking to attract new support from this traditionally Democratic constituency, released a memo after Obama's synagogue visit that said his positions signaled that he was “anything but a friend” of Israel, including remarks about Palestinian suffering and his willingness to consider dialogue with nations hostile to the United States and Israel.

soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Diane, Buffalo, Wy.

    He had to have known what Rev. Hagee and Ron Parsley espouse. They have been around for years. Probably just as long if not longer than Rev. Wright. You would have had to have had your head buried in the sand not to know what they preach about.

    May 22, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. Saddam Hussein

    Aha Aha G.W.Bush my name never die
    Next president Barak Hussein Obama

    May 22, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  3. patrick

    Hat's off to you Sen Obama, Keep up the straight talk. Yes, some Americans don't pay attention, but this internet thing has lots of my friends watching everything said. This is Sen McCain taking the low road, Sen Obama taking the high road.

    May 22, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  4. Neil

    I don't think McCain was suggesting that everything Wright said was attributable to Obama. I think he was trying to say "See, I through my obnoxious Pastor under the bus faster than YOU did. And besides, he wasn't even MY pastor! (I just screwed up seeking him out so I could pander to my lunatic right base.)" . . . or something like that. Sort of an obnoxious thing to say, regardless.

    May 22, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  5. mike from houston

    Why should we always care about JEWISH Group ?
    There are many group in USA, they don't get headline ....................

    May 22, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. About Time

    I think it is great that Obama is exposing his policy regarding Israel directly to the Jewish American community. What Bush did in denouncing Obama in Israel was down right low down, unprofessional, and ignorant. What else would one expect from the cowboy.

    May 22, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. Jose

    We need to put an end to Church officials, Pastors and Reverend endorsement to a Public candidate. This is a conflict of church and state. No more tax exemptions for churches.

    May 22, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. Pat M

    John McCain who I have no great love for in this instance is Speaking the Truth. Obama is lying. I heard the exact words McCain referenced here and that is what he said.

    Since Obama started putting on the heat about a week ago his true self has emerged. The self who fudges on, flip flops on and takes a U Turn when all else fails.

    Obama's statement that there are alot of rumours however IS the Truth but it's the Truth about HIM not McCain. I'd like to know when Obama and/or the Media is going to address those rumours. When is Obama going to explain his position on the same and either confirm or deny the accusations being made against him?? A Man who truly wants to change America for the better and a Man with Conviction and Honesty would do so. Can you meet the Challenge Obama? Doesn't matter as you'll meet the challenge if you win the Nomination as the Republicans will make sure you do!

    Obama's arrogance has increased over the past week and it is not attractive or vote rendering. I know this won't get past the Moderator as none of the comments I've submitted with even one negative word about Obama has ever been approved.

    May 22, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  9. independent for Obama

    MCcain please repest yourself. You are too old to be saying this. I will never vote for you MCcain. You are too old to be in whithouse.

    May 22, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
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