The appearance of video by Jeremiah Wright, pastor to Barack Obama, has caused a recent frenzy as both Democratic candidate struggle with the issue of race on the campaign trail. Here's an excerpt of an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Q: I don't know if you've seen it, but it's all over the wire today (from an ABC News story), a statement that your pastor (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side) made in a sermon in 2003 that instead of singing "God Bless America," black people should sing a song essentially saying "God Damn America."
A: I haven't seen the line. This is a pastor who is on the brink of retirement who in the past has made some controversial statements. I profoundly disagree with some of these statements.
Q: What about this particular statement?
A: Obviously, I disagree with that. Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it's important to judge me on what I've said in the past and what I believe.
Several of the morning shows returned to the issue today. On Morning Joe, McCain's campaign manager Charlie Black didn't take the bait on the subject, saying:
Charlie Black: What Sen. McCain has said repeatedly, is that these candidates cannot be held accountable for all the views of people who endorse them, or people who befriend them. And fortunately, I heard you report earlier that Sen. Obama has repudiated these very unusual views. But what John McCain believes is that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for their public policy views. The things we've described before. Big government vs. small government...
Joe: So this isn't an issue for John McCain.
Charlie Black: I don't think Sen. McCain wants to get in the middle of a discussion about Sen. Obama's former pastor, or his faith. He believes that people who endorse you, people who befriend you, are entitled to their own views, but you are not personally held accountable. That when someone endorses you or befriends you, they are embracing your views - the candidate's views - not the other way around.
UPDATE: So much for staying on message. Apparently the McCain campaign push out an editorial to the Wall Street Journal attacking Obama's connection to Rev. Wright. A campaign aide has since called the decision "a mistake."
Click here for video of Wright's controversial speech.
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