I'm outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday. I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992 and have known Jeremiah Wright for almost 22 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they also give comfort to those that prey on hate and I believe they do not accurately portray the perspective of the black church. They certainly do not accurately portray my values and beliefs. If Reverend Wright thinks that is political posturing on my part, he does not know me very well.
I have already denounced those comments that have come out of these previous sermons. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church, has built a wonderful conversation. They are a wonderful people and what attracted me has always been the ministries reach beyond church walls. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions, that the U.S. government is involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Louis Farrakhan represents one of the greatest voices of the 21st century, when he equates the United States' wartime effort with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightfully offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. That is what I am doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.
I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am, that's what I believe, and that's what this campaign has been about.
More from Obama's press conference via the New York Times:
"His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church," Mr. Obama said, his voice welling with anger. "They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs."[...]
"I find these comments appalling. It contradicts everything that I'm about and who I am."
During Q and A with reporters, Senator Obama was asked why he hadn't reacted this way when he responded to Wright yesterday. The reporter was referring to Reverend Wright's remarks at the National Press Club on Monday (watch video).
I will be honest, I had not seen it yet. ... What I had heard is that he had given a performance and I thought at that time it would be sufficient to repeat what I said in Philadelphia. Upon watching it, what came clear to me was that it was more than just him defending himself. What became clear is that he was presenting a worldview that contradicts who I am and what I stand for. What particularly angered me was his suggestion that my previous denunciation of his remarks was political posturing. Anybody who knows me or what I am about knows that I am trying to bridge gaps and seize the commonality in all people.
Here's some clips from the Q&A session:
Ben Smith reports that Obama is planning a big press conference on Jeremiah Wright:
Obama is asked about Wright by a woman in Winston-Salem who tells the audience to watch his PBS interview, which will quell their concerns.
"I'm going to be having a big press conference afterward to talk about this Obama says, then refers back to a story the woman told about a mother having to borrow month to get to work.
Earlier, Obama addressed Wright's controversial remarks at the National Press Club, saying that "they don't represent my views and they don't represent what this campaign is about.":
"I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we're not coordinating with him, right?" Mr. Obama said. "He's obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor. Many of the statements that he has made both to trigger this initial controversy and that he's made over the last several days are not statements that I've heard him make previously. They don't represent my views and they don't represent what this campaign is about."