April 28th, 2008
06:55 PM ET

GOP Strategist: What Obama needs to do about Rev. Wright

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/28/wright.transcript/art.wright2.ap.jpg caption="Jeremiah Wright speaks at an NAACP dinner on Sunday night."]

Ed Rollins
Fmr. Huckabee Nat'l Campaign Chairman

In any election, it is difficult for an unknown and undefined candidate. The first rule of any political campaign is always go out and define yourself before your opponent does it for you.

Even though the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination has been long and expensive, the front runner Senator Obama is still unknown by most voters.

He said he was going to be a different kind of leader, a healer. One who brought people together, not divide them up by groups or special interests. And many voters thought and hoped that was going to be true.

Unfortunately, on his way to the nomination, it's not his opponent Hillary Clinton who is defining him, it's his own friend and former spiritual leader, whose language and rhetoric has been hateful and unpatriotic.

The candidate brushed him aside and tried to move on after the first damage, but Rev. Wright likes the big audience and obviously likes the media attention and maybe even the controversy. He is defining Obama in a way that can only lead to devastating results.

If this race becomes one about the repression of Black America and/or the United States' perceived sins against other nations, according to the gospel of Rev Wright, then the junior senator from Illinois becomes an easy target.

Comments like this one from the Rev. Wright:
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands (killed on 9/11) in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

And Rev. Wright's likening the Romans at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion to our brave US Marines and suggesting that the United States was acting like Al Qaeda under a different color flag. This is not a concept that Barack can defend, and now he needs to get himself as far away from the good reverend as possible.

Who is the real Obama? That's the first question I would raise if I were running a campaign against him. If the answer scares white voters or disturbs patriotic Americans, his march to victory is long and improbable.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Ed Rollins • Raw Politics • Rev. Jeremiah Wright
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. Joy L

    To me it looks like a big Political LIE. He's doing what he "needs" to do, as a politician to distance himself, but I don't believe that he didn't know after twenty years what Wright was like. It looks fake and phony.

    I don't buy it. Obama is just like all the other politicians out there.

    April 29, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  2. Lee

    This may be cynical, but is it POSSIBLE that Rev. Wright has been saying all these things for the past few days in order to hand Obama the justification for his complete public break with Wright, which is something he may have realized Obama MUST do to save his campaign going forward, esp. for the general election?

    April 29, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  3. Elaine

    Thoughts from Canada
    Why does the media keep pursuing this ridiculous topic? I've been following your election very closely and I hope so much that Obama is your next president, however all this nonsence has got to be damaging. If you would all just stiop responding to Rev. Wright maybe he'll go away. Wouldn't that be lovely? I think he's got some points, however, I'm getting very tired of the whole thing. Please stop harping on it. I used to really enjoy Anderson Cooper's 360 and Larry King's talk show ( I can;t say the same for the mean-spirited Lou Dobbs) , I'd like to enjoy these programs again.

    April 29, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  4. cari

    Anderson, you got it wrong. He did not denounce Reverend Wright, he denounced what he said. Big difference.

    April 29, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  5. Nikki

    Can we stick to the issues. People are loosing their homes, can't afford gas, and cant afford insurance. I dont care about the Clintons, Barack or McCain side drama....please let's deal with REAL ISSUES that can help Americans.!

    April 29, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Barb

    I am a Canadian and have been watching CNN for years. Thank you for continuing to show us what the Rev.? Wright is saying and doing. I find his speeches scary and truly hope that Sen. Obama does not in his heart agree with the hatred that his former pastor believes and preaches. In his recent speeches, the reverend is arrogant, smarmy, has a huge ego, loves himself and his views way more than he loves the Lord, makes fun of others, talks as if all the listeners are dense because they don't see the world as he does. You can almost see the hatred and even stronger words of divisiveness wanting to spring out of him .. it shows in his eyes and face. I can't even imagine what he really in his heart thinks but I'm fairly certain it isn't love of all people or of country.

    It is scary to me that 8000 plus people in America are listening to these types of sermons at his church and that other black pastors support and agree with his views. Makes one wonder what hatred and discontent comes home with the parishoners? I can't see how it builds communication and understanding in the country. Subjecting children to this kind of hatred in a church is emotional abuse in my opinion; it must make them feel afraid and vulnerable not empowered and optimistic in life. It is almost as alarming as listening to Islamic spritual leaders who spew out hatred and encourge their people to hate, kill, and destroy. When watching him you can almost see that he'd like to go much further but perhaps his church wouldn't be tax free if he really spoke his mind politically. Senator Obama needs to get very 'specific' and address the issues this Reverend is speaking about ... people will fear that he too has hatred and resentement buried in his heart and it will affect how he makes decisions and lead the country if elected president. It is unfortunate – many of my friends and family were praying that the Senator from Chicago would win the election in the USA but knowing the history of this church and this pastor and the relationship he had with Senator Obama has changed my mind. It just plain frightens me because I care about and love our neighbours in the USA. I can only imagine how many Americans must be feeling.

    I will continue to watch and hope that Senator Obama and his wife can come clean with their true feelings, and I'd like to hear from other parishoners of that church .... let's see how this indoctrination has affected them and the children?

    April 29, 2008 at 11:59 am |
  7. kevin lynch

    There are those on this blog that state barrack and rev wright have a right to their views,so does the KKK. But we do not give them tax exemption to spew their hate speech!
    The KKK is deplorable in their separtist views. Rev Wright is deplorable in his separtist views. Barrack states "the typical white person believes". This is a separtist view that is influenced by rev wrights 20 years of involvment in barracks personal life. Michelle Obama states anti american rhetorc!
    I am a white male; I have every right to stand up and call rev wright a BIGGOT!!! I will not let him get away with his hate speech and yes Obama should be disqualified from being president due to his obvious influence of rev wrights. As I have a right to be even more angered that rev wright is a student of Ghadafi as Farrakan is also. Ghadafi was personally responsible for blowing up an american airliner where black and white americans died by the hundred!!

    April 29, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  8. Tina

    Watch and pray. Back to the double-edged sword again for Obama. Not speaking for all Native American's, but as a Native American in the USA. I love my USA country. Why should I?', has a double-edged answer? With all the conflicts, turmoil and history of injustice in america. They've abused, slaughtered , manipulated, conned us and now neglect us. They make double standards that apply for Native American's that do not apply to white america – even today. Does that make me "un-patriotic"? Does that make me hate white america, for what their ancestor's did to us? The answer is no. Should I hate white people? The answer is yes and no. But I am pressed to find in myself, forgiveness, as a Christian. The planet is not all black and white – nor are the answers. We can chose how we love. Hate and bitterness are not an option in God's eyes. Keep the faith, hope & pray for our nation to be a blessed country. We have a right to be angry for the injustices.

    April 29, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  9. Rahni, Connecticut

    I'm getting tired of CNN broacasting sound bites of this man. CNN and other media outlets are fanning the flames of discontent regarding Obama and is former minister. Please stop it now!

    Rahni, Connecticut

    April 29, 2008 at 11:41 am |
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