March 14th, 2008
05:42 PM ET

Obama answers critics on 360° tonight

We had been working on this story all day  – the controversy over Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

360° tonight

Anderson talks with Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, responding to his pastor’s firestorm of controversy. 360° Tonight, 10p ET.

Rev. Wright recently had this to say, "Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home, Barack was.  Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary, Hillary ain’t never been called a n*****!  Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person.”

Harsh words from a man Obama has called his spiritual mentor (he officiated the Obamas’ wedding and baptized their two children).  Yesterday, Sen. Obama was not commenting, so our plan for tonight was to run a story looking at the history of this kind of rhetoric in black churches and what Rev. Wright’s comments could mean for the his most famous congregation member.

But late in the day, the Obama campaign had a change of heart, offering up the Senator himself to address the issue.  So we’ll have that tonight, Anderson and Senator Obama responding to his pastor’s firestorm of controversy.

Program note: Anderson Cooper 360° airs live at 10p ET on CNN

Filed under: Barack Obama
soundoff (505 Responses)
  1. Naomi

    Well. I believe this election gives the USA as a country a chance. We're at a crossroads, but it's a process, and we've by NO means arrived yet. I think it's very important to see how Mr. Obama handles this, because if elected president he's going to be in an unprecedented position as a bridge between racial divides. Ideology would tell us it shouldn't be that big of a deal because we are all created equal. Experience tells us we have some serious racial issues that should be in the past that aren't yet for whatever reasons. So if this is a detail, it seems to be an important one which will give us insight into how a possible future president will tackle sensitive racial tensions. Whether you're the first African-American president, or the first female president people are going to be watching more closely, and will be more critical. With the kind of comments in question there is PLENTY of room for criticism.
    Seems almost like some kind of democratic final exams on handling racial diplomacy from inside their camps this week. I don't know.

    March 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  2. DBR

    Most impressively is the manner in which Senator Obama has handled this attack, an attack most likely researched and funded by Clinton's 527 groups. What church do the Clinton's attend? I believe it is The First Church of Transylvania, any state USA, with Reverend Slick Willy as its pastor. The Clinton's legacy will have been to suck the life out of the Democratic Party and the reinvention of the Republican Party. Maybe McCain will appoint her Chief Race Specialist to his campaign. I'm disgusted about the entire events from the last week. I trust that Obama will again rise above these attacks and just like his debating skills, his skills to discredit lies and connections as illegal or shady or anti-American will improve and ultimately be strong enough to squash Senator McCain in November. Just think of it this way... if he can beat "The Clinton Machine", he can beat any Republican.

    March 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  3. sherrie from montana

    obama freely admits that this reverand has been his friend,mentor and adviser for over 20 years yet he never heard his sermons about whites and america it,s self?after hearing all of this where do you think his wifes comment about this being the first time she is proud to be an american was inspired from! It is amost mind numbing how anyone can say that whites are racist,blacks are more so by far.Just take a look at the percentage of blacks voting for BARACK HUSSIAN OBAMA and tell me who is more racist.Do you really think that there are that many blacks who trully beleive he is the right choice or is it they are voting for skin color not whites. and after 20 years under his mentors ideas dont you think some has rubbed off?WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!

    March 15, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Santosh

    I'm curious how this news came up all of a sudden, right after the Ferraro gaffe... It seems perfectly timed to double up on the potential to turn off the blue collar white voters and seems politically timed to me – it's not like these statements were made yesterday.
    I think it's obviously troubling, but I totally believe Obama in general. Look, to think that African Americans are in general happy or that this country has some sing-song history where it's nothing but guts and glory ignores all the things we have had to get over to get to this point, both with slavery and racism as well as sexism – we're often slower, not quicker to move forward than some other parts of the world; for example on slavery or even having a woman as a leader. We've also been involved in more wars than any other country since our inception.
    We all love this country, it's the greatest country to live in, has the best Constitution... but the pastor's statements reflect some real sentiment in America, that's all, and Obama has disagreed, so we should leave it. This stuff all pales in comparison to the Clinton scandals and past, stuff we don't even talk about now. The media has to stop being afraid to talk about things, who cares about the score and whether it's even or not – there's simply not even close to as much dirt on Obama as with the Cintons...

    March 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  5. Kelly

    I watched the pastor; I listened to Obamas response. What was given from both was more than a news "clip". It is a gut BELIEF that is shared between the two that cannot be changed or repressed. When someone strongly believes in something, a close friend-or even a church attendee-KNOWS the others belief...especially after 20 years.
    I've attended church with only white people, and I've been a churchmember with an open door to ALL races and backgrounds. I have NEVER seen or heard such strong and negative beliefs shared in a church. What I saw, and how the congregation reacted to this Chicago pastor's strong words (standing up clapping, high fiving, fists in the air) was absolutely horrifying. With "pastors" like this...there is no wonder there is still a DIVIDE in this country. These were not words of "healing", these were words of "separation". I find it sickening, and am moreso appauled that the pastor is "retiring" (good timing) at the end of this month. It's just all too revealing....a revealing of THE TRUTH. The United States people DO NOT KNOW Obama.

    March 15, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
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