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. Lynn

    What is David Gergen talking about? Guilt by association??? How long would he belong to any organizations (church or whatever) where the leader talked about "chickens coming home to roost" on September 16, 2001 as we all started at the rubble at Ground Zero and prayed that some INNOCENT people could still be rescued. As Anderson said, this isn't Obama's blood relative. He could have walked out of that church anytime. I love gospel music. I've been to many African-American churches, and I have NEVER, NEVER heard anything like this.

    March 14, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  2. john waters

    first of all, it is not like mr. wright was lying. history shows america has a darkside. simply the truth hurts

    March 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  3. joe_dallas

    bottom line is that hate is hate no matter what color, sex, status, or pastor

    March 14, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  4. Chris

    This was news 2 months ago and now the media is bringing this back up! This is a story again because of the racial remarks by members of the Clinton camp.

    How many people here have been to a church where you did not agree wih everything the pastor preaches? I have and that pastor was my late grandfather. We have to keep in mind that older African American pastor had a different upbringing that what alot of us have today. They grew up in the 60' and 70's and alot of racial frustrations still remain especially in the South.

    The real issues here is the economy. This country is about to go into a serious recession, loss of jobs, inflation and we are here trying to bring Obama down because of what was said by his former pastor.


    March 14, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  5. deborah stroski

    In regards to what the preacher said during a sermon. Is there anything untrue about what he said? I am a white woman and I truly believe in every word he stated. We are controlled with wealthy white society and there is still much unjustice when it comes to any person of color. Hispanics, Blacks and Asians are still looked at as different and as sit here and type this in a very weathly wine growing region of CA, I see much injustice to are farm worker and they way they are forced to live in slums paying high rents to very rich white people. Nothing this pastor said was untrue. Take a look at who is still homeless after Katrina! Who suffered the most! Obama is the man we want in the white house. He will unite this country better than any other president in history. Why? Because he is a man of color!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  6. Noel

    VOTE McCAIN. The democrats have gotten so far out there, it's not a clean race anymore. Clinton has muddied the waters and created such tension, that all small issues have become major issues, blown out of porportion. Thank Hillary and Bill for that. Obama won't recover from this one. Pennsylvania will hand him his walking papers and Clinton will come out ahead. Unfortunately and sad. She's a horrible person, dishonest, secretive and mean. It's beyond me why anyone even supports Hillary, because once she gets their votes, they will never hear from her or see her again.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  7. L B

    I think that Barack Obama will be just fine. This just go's to show how much of a mess the USA is in. Barack is still the one to get things started for the better of tomorrow. We can't live in the past like that paster. We must continue to move forward and I feel that Barack Obama will be the one to help get us there. He gets my vote.


    March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  8. Jean Hamann

    I notice some people are commenting on the content of the Ministers tape. I am commenting on his tone of voice. He is the most hateful sounding person I have ever heard. Let alone, Minister. He does not have love in his heart. Maybe Americans should take their time and learn about people. before getting so sucked up in the "change" word. We can end up in deeper problems than we already have!!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  9. Catherine Sammartano

    I was apalled by Rev. Wright's comments. He sounds racist! After 20 years of listening I cannot believe Obama was not aware of Wright's beliefs, after all Wright was his spiritual advisor. I am a democrat and I will not vote for Obama.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  10. Patty

    And oh yeah, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that, over 20 years with this preacher, he never heard these sentiments or was unaware of them. No sensible person can believe that.
    Obama lied on that one, because there was no reasonable explanation if he admitted to it.
    Obama lied. Maybe he's not the second coming after all.....

    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  11. Dave

    America's democrats better wake up before Barack Obama is our candidate and McCain gains the White House. Despite his lofty rhetoric, amazing oratory skills, and charismatic leadership, Barack Obama has been exposed. Underlying his great skills, is the divisive candidate he condemns. Hillary Clinton is the best hope for ALL democrats, white or black, rich or poor, Asian, Hispanic or whatever else we may be. Her entire life is testimony to her CONSISTENT commitment to equality for ALL. Let's nominate the right candidate before it is too late. We were fooled by George Bush's post 9/11 nationalistic fervor; let's not allow a silver-tongued candidate to fool us again.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  12. JOHN for Hillary

    Come on Obamanites (cult followers). last week with Geraldine Ferraro who stated some facts and i admire her guts. She is more gutsy than your liyng candidate. After that you called her racist and averything else. Now Obama should not be question and not trusted anymore and I understant his apology and the explanation that his pastor never use this remarks that he was there. Come on guys he is being going there for 20 years, and also took his kids there and listen to this man. And even if the pastor did not say any of these things when he was there (that I do not believe) you are telling us that he didn't here or find out from other followers if something like this happened. And the pastor had a lot of speeches like these in the news. when he found out why he did not change church and cut all associations with the pastor. He is saying that his believes are different. Let say the last 19 years did not change a church but these videos where public last year and he was asked about the pastors comments and he said he is like an uncle. But he did not fire him from the campaign, and he did not apologize or take so much time to put things straight. But now since his presidential nomination looks closer and more realistic he is saying that he denounce and reject everything that the pastor stands for=HE HAS TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO HERE SO YOU VOTE FOR HIM, HE DOESN'T WANT TO LOSE ALL THE WHITE AMERICANS. HE IS AMBITIOUS AND HE WILL DO AND SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED= this is politics as usual guys of the worst kind. Just think about it a little bit, and do not be blind like this. it is all common sence. Would you kept attanding a church like this for twenty years.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  13. Annie Kate

    If the pastor's sermon was not part of a pattern then I guess I can give Obama the benefit of the doubt and accept his answer. If it is part of a pattern then why didn't Obama leave and find a church more in line with his ideals?

    While I am bothered by these statements I would like to see more emphasis on the issues, especially the economy.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  14. tony belizaire

    Obama can't be responsible for his pastor's works. All pastors white,black,yellow let transpire their beliefs. Some play smarter than others and say some politically correct words.
    The black old preacher is wounded by the racial treatment in the USA
    The worst part is the media still playing the racial game. look at Anderson who try to be a prosecutor tonight.


    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  15. Gary

    I have many African-American friends and know for sure that despite our progress they still feel racism. It is not explicit but still inherent in America. The older generation shows anger while younger generation like Obama tries to get beyond it. Many successful and rich blacks will tell you about indirect racism they have experienced in their life. So we definitely need to keep in mind the difference white and black churches.

    I have been impressed by Obama's campaign so far. They have great grass-roots campaign, well organized and great message. Yet I am puzzled why the Obama campaign has not handled Wright and Rezko story more cleanly upfront. These are the only two issues that keep resurfacing every now and then. I hope he survives this swift-boat moment.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  16. CYT

    It seems that anytime there is something about African Americans and the struggle as well as the racism that is apparent in America the person who voices their opinion is racist. Hilary has never been judged by the color of her skin, nor has she been passed by a taxi cab because of her skin color. These facts are true, Hilary has not been called the n-word or for that matter any other racist name. I am so SICK AND TIRED of seeing the video of the Rev. Wright, everyone has the right to say what they feel and preach what they feel. We will never know what Hilary's preacher says because Hilary does not go to church. Whatever the media can do to tear Obama down they will do, but Barack Obama is strong and stands tall everyone time the media tries to tear him. Obama has said that he denounces and rejects these comments. Leave it alone and move on. Lets focus on the issues: ECONOMY, IRAQ WAR, HEALTH CARE, HOME FORECLOSURES AND UNITING THE WORLD. OBAMA 2008- YES WE CAN!!!!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  17. sue

    people come to church looking for help, and hope. in the black church
    the pastor will adress , and educate on matters of finance,politics(which usually has a direct effect on our finances) and family values.

    pastor wright's strong views can be taken as food for thought and prayer.

    barock obama has said he is not in agreement to the negative views of this pastor . this highly compassionate, intelligent man is running
    for president..let's get on with the election process.

    why let all the negatives ..guilt by association..race bait games go.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  18. Voter who Cares

    Shame on you, Anderson Cooper. Shame on Wolf Blitzer, shame on Lou Dobbs, shame on your senior political analysts, shame on your expert advisors, shame on you all. Who cares about Geraldine Farraro? Who cares about Jeremiah Wright? Who cares about your tabloid news articles meant to get more viewers. If any of those voters actually changed their vote for all the news you "really don't want to cover – but gosh, just have to" they are moronic. This election is NOT about what you are reporting. It is about the candidates, it is about our futures. Cover the candidates and what they say, not what their renegade surrogates say. Cover the candidates instead of trying to "dig up more" on Jeremiah Wright. Pastor Wright is not running for president in case you haven't noticed. Come on! Have more integrity that that for pete's sake!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  19. Wesley Kabaila

    Rev. Wright is a well respected and followed minister in the Black community. He conducted a Faith based conference that i happened to convened in Los Angeles as late as October of last year. First of all, were any of the things he said a lie? No. Rev. Dr. Wright, (who happens to be a Harvard grad.) represents a theology of liberation that rings true in the black and brown communities. He also addresses in his sermons, a discourse that is adamant in black communities across the country. It is because white america refuses to engage this discourse in an honest manner, that there remains a race divide in this country. Social ministry must deal with and address correctives in the black commuinity from years of slavery, Jim Crow and rabid racism experienced by blacks at the hands of whites.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  20. Catherine Sammartano

    I was appalled at Rev. Wright's extreme views. I cannot believe that Obama went to this church for twenty years and was not aware of Wrights views. After sitting and listening to this pastor, his spiritual advisor for twenty years, he must agree! I am a democrat and I absolutely will not vote for Obama.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  21. Nick

    Had this been Hillary's pastor this would be blown up so much more. The new pastor tries to make the case that the 35 years of Pastor Wright has been reduced to the 30 seconds of his sermon now being shown. I don't believe that hearing the way he talked that this was the only time he said these type of remarks.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  22. claudia

    My question to Senator Obama would be, how much money have you tithed to your church in the past twenty years. At my church I understand what kinda of doctrine of Christianity my pastor teaches. You fudged around today about disclaiming and rejecting the hateful anti-white, anti American teachings he was videotaped in saying. The latest video was from Dec 25, 2007. How sad for you that you missed love sermons. I didn't hear any sermon about loving your neighbor and forgiveness. You are as guilty as your pastor for listening to his garbage for the past 20 years. Guilty with association and money support to promote this guy. My husband and I were actually starting to look at you seriously. We think you are a sheep in wolve's clothing. You cannot hide what you are. Didn't your mother teach you to be careful of who you hung out with? Because you become like minded when you hang out 20 years in a church that teaches this kind of hatred. We have a loving merciful loving God, who is waiting for you to come and ask for forgiveness. Change your church and start istening to the real gospel.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  23. Concerned for CNN

    I am very bothered by your coverage of Barack Obama's pastor. Have you never attended a black church OR do you agree with EVERYTHING your pastor/religious leader states? The fact that you are covering this and continue to show the images of his pastor the larger the story becomes. This is the problem with media, you all are taking clips and making them larger than life. I guess there are no other stories to cover?!?!?!?! Why should Obama have to defend himself because he enjoyed attending the church? Are we going to make ALL presidential candidates release the sermons of their religious leaders? Church is a sacred place, where what happens there is between those whom attend, not a place for the media. Race is a problem in the US and until EVERYONE accepts this we won't be able to move on. Most of the comments made by this pastor are sentiments shared by most of the black community in the US. It's time for us all to wake up and realize that America is NOT a utopia. This is the reason electing Obama as President is a great choice. For so long, America has ignored/covered up the racial issues, and it's time to stop. I am not stating that Obama should be President because he is black, but because I do believe he could impact change. Hasn't he done so, thus far? It's not about talk, but action. With Obama, the proof is in the pudding, regardless of the church he attends...

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  24. Heather

    I agree with a media "time out". I am really disappointed in CNN and the media for running with this story for so long.

    As a white woman, I could care less what his pastor has said in his sermons and don't feel that it's an issue that should be of concern as to whether Obama should be the next president. I have been to many churches, raised southern baptist where pastors get out of control and passionate in their sermons and I can guarantee you that much of it I didn't agree with I never felt that it was necessary to renounce the pastor or to publicly denounce their sermon. With all the passion there is always something good to come out of it as well.

    Come on, this is ridiculous, this is not a serious issue it's the only thing that the media can come up with to try and take out of context and damage Obama. CNN has blown this way out. Do we get to hear all the sermons of the other candidates pastors? This is a very sad statement about what the media deems important. What does this have to do with Obama's character and his ability to lead our country ?NOTHING. Come on CNN, get a real story. Let's get back to actually talking about something that matters rather than continuing to try and divide the country and the democratic party further.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  25. cwilson

    African-Americans cannot be "racists". We are not the oppressors. We have been oppressed. legislated to be three-fifths of a human being, disenfranchised, and dehumanized. I applaud Barack Obama for sharing his positive vision and "The Audaciity of Hope." There are so many African Americans who are still seriously wounded by the legacy of racism, chattel slavery, and Jim Crow. Senator Obama's candidacy and vision is a powerful ray of hope for all Americans.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  26. charles

    I cannot believe that Obama was not aware of the bigoted views being expressed by his pastor and close influential mentor. These views must have been commonplace within his church over the last years.
    We are also being asked to believe that an astute lawyer, who maintains he has excellent judgement, was not aware of something untoward when Resko sold him land for below the market price.
    If Obama was unaware of both matters it could be questioned whether he has the judgement to be President.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  27. M. Brown

    It's hard to believe Sen. Obama didn't agree with the views of Rev Wright.
    He has been a member of the church almost 20 years. From the tapes,
    the reaction of the people , was great delight in those views. I will never vote for Sen. Obama!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  28. Sylvia

    Seriously, what kind of judgement is Senator Obama professing this week? How could he sit in a pew of that church and miss the overall character of his spiritual advisor? The Senator has made Judgement the key issue in this election. He believes he has the judgement to know right from wrong and to make those decisions for the betterment oif the country. Yet, here is an almost 20 year history with a church leader who condemns the very country Senator Obama says he loves; Senator Obama calls this man his friend and advisor. Doesn't that give us pause . . . HUGE pause

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  29. Josue Fantoni

    Now more than ever, it is clear to me that Barack Obama is a threat to the country and he does not deserve our trust! Shame on Barrack Obama! He obviously knew all about this, that's why he uninvited that savage so called "reverend" to not appear at the event where he announced his candidacy! He thinks people are dumb, but he can only fool his fanatics, and I am not one of them.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  30. Jim

    he did not answer the question. rewind your dvr and watch it again

    March 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  31. Jose

    I am a Catholic and I did not nor will I leave the Church because of the beliefs or non-beliefs of some of our members. I do not condone priest abusing children but that does not mean that I have to leave the church. This is a matter of faith. I believe in the Catholic church and its history and faith that it gives me. Why are you questioning someone's faith? What happened to "separation of church and state" sahme on you CNN!!!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  32. Ken

    He may be off the campaign but I bet he will not be out of his life.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  33. i

    Gossip travels i know and you know that Obama heard the gossip without failure, He got the latest news , he should not tell the American people that he does not know, what his pastor preaches in his absence.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  34. Aj

    If Obama is a true uniter and not a divider, then he should come out and do a conference just on this issue. Obama should distance himself and condemn the remarks of the Rev. "Changes" begin with you now Mr. Obama and we don't need such haters as your Rev. and his followers cheering him on.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  35. jeffrey eubanks

    In the videos it shows the audience standing and applauding the reverend's terrible comments, thus they are agreeing with him, so are we to believe that the senator goes to a church for 20 plus years yet has a totally diffeent view of America than those who attend this church and the Reverend Wright? Give me a break. Just like a polished Politician.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  36. Ron In TX.

    Obama, has been on all 3 cable news channels tonight, and I have watched each one. on all 3 he has said he has never heard any of these comments. For 20 years, over 800 Sundays of church, and he has not heard any of these comments. GIVE ME A BREAK..

    I believe he is lying about this, and it will catch up with him before the PA. primary. It will not be that he said that these are not his beliefs, but the fact he lied about never hearing any of them. Someone will find out the truth and when they do it WILL BE THE END of his campaign. Stick a fork in him he's done.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  37. Carmen

    I cannot believe that in 20 years Obama never heard a sermon like what we have been hearing. The law of probability does not agree with him. 20 years times 52 Sundays and he never heard a thing?
    Also, he had a personal relationship with this man. Did the Reverend hide this side of himself from Obama? At social gatherings you tend to talk about what the pastor, priest, etc. said at his/her sermon. How could it be that no one ever apprised Mr. Obama about the Reverends incendiary sermons? I do not believe Mr. Obama.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  38. John

    I can’t believe that as a close family friend and mentor Obama never discussed politics or race with the Pastor. If I ever attended a church where statements were made against my country or another race, I would never set foot in that church again. This puts in perspective how Obama’s wife could say that she now for the first time in her adult life is proud to be an American.BTW, Obama didn’t say God bless America, when Anderson asked, did he? He joked around it.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  39. Maia Ajanaku-Locke

    It Saddens me that the media stoops so low, as I knew you would, to cast Rev. Wright and Barack Obama as the sole creators of racism when racism is as American as apple pie. Rev. Wright is no more racist than Lou Dobbs. He just not as sophisticated at it as Lou is.

    By the way, why not call on Hillary to denounce, repudiate and leave Bill Clinton by way of the divorce court. His remarks were no less incendiary to many African Americans including myself than Rev. Wright's.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  40. Michael

    If this were a matter of religion than this would not be an issue. However, the statements the Reverend made is of a political nature and not to be found or related to the Christian beliefs.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  41. Sunae


    March 14, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  42. Paul

    Anderson, why did Senator Obma not answer your question if he has a problem sunging god bless america? He never answered the question!

    March 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  43. Gee

    Last week Obama was a Muslim and this week he is a radical Christen. What's next?

    Does this move us any closer to lowering gas price, saving homes from foreclosure, getting better healthcare or changing the opinion that the world has of America??

    We need a media "time out"!! Let the Candidates get back on point and discuss the issues. China is eating our lunch on the world stage and killing our kids with lead paint. Can we all just get along?

    March 14, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  44. Lee

    Bull hockey. I don't believe that he had no idea what his pastor of twenty years believes.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  45. Geraldine Ciesielski

    Anderson, please ask Obama if he were home for Christmas and if so why did he not attend church services on Christmas Day. Sounds like a liar to me from what he has said on other shows tonight.

    March 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  46. Darrin

    If it's not one thing it's another...The fact that you all are even reporting on this says a lot about how much we know about each other......

    March 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  47. Linda Givens

    It is amazing how we get caught up in the comments of what Rev. Wright has said,instead of staying focused on the issues. The reality is that alot of what he has said is accurate from an African American presepctive, but not necessarily polite. Rev. Wright isn't the first religious leader to make comments that are infammatory and racist. Billy Graham and President Nixon made anti-semitic comments in a private conversation in 1972. Let's stop using race as a distraction and focus on the real issues, such healthcare,education, unemployment.

    March 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  48. Steve from Chicago

    As an Obama supporter like Anderson I appreciate his apologizing for having to air the pastor's statements last night. But I wonder why did Obama go to a church for 20 years and listen to this hateful speech. Other commentators say McCain has to apologize for comments by pastor Hagee but McCain never went to Hagee's church.

    Obama calls Wright his spiritual advisor. He was a 20 year member of a church filled with hate and conspiracy theory. What does that say about Barack?I'm beginning to shift to Hillary. If Hillary went to a church for 20 years that said AIDS was created by the government, 9-11 was brought on by ourselves and Louis Farrakhan deserves a lifetime achievement award her candidacy would be dead.

    I'm beginning to seriously question the character and judgement. There are thousands of churches in Chicago. Couldn't he find one not filled with hate. Couldn't he find a "spiritual mentor" less demonic?

    I hope Anderson asks him this and tries to leave his support for Barack at home in order to get to the truth.

    March 14, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  49. james

    I don't see how the comments are racist. That Clinton woman was a child of privilege. America has had a racially segregated history that still bears itself upon what it means to be black. Rich white people tend to run your country. That you don't want someone to point this out is racist and sexist? I don't understand Americans.

    March 14, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  50. Ian

    Why wasn't John McCain's endorsement from pastor John Hagee not dissected the same way???? John Hagee has made anti catholic, anti-islam and anti aftrican american comments as well. ANd this is what John McCain had to say when asked after the endorsement. >> "Well I think it's important to note that pastor John Hagee who has supported and endorsed my candidacy supports what I stand for and believe in. When he endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for and believes. And I am very proud of the Pastor John Hagee's spiritual leadership to thousands of people and I am proud of his commitment to the independence and the freedom of the state of Israel. That does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor John Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues. I don't have to agree with everyone who endorses my candidacy. They are supporting my candidacy. I am not endorsing some of their positions."

    CNN I'm afraid is not turning out to be neutral and trusted as it calls itself to be. Remember, people watch very closely on every nuances and its important to be fair in dissecting similar issues evenly. if CNN can ignore all of these and focus on what each candidates are bringing to the issues we have, that will automatically make shift to the negativity thats been bubbling up to explode the bright future our country may have.. Its not enough just blaming the candidates, the media has to take the lion share of the blame for propelling this!!

    March 14, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
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