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. Gail Jackson

    Unfortunately, the media and that definately includes CNN, keeps this fire going. I am so tired of all this nonsence. Don't you have anything better to report that will actually do this country some good? All this negative political rangling just keeps me depressed. I've started turning CNN off because I'm so sick of it all.

    The candidates are NOTdefined by the people around them so why not just give it a rest. PLEASE stop reporting this rubbish.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  2. ed

    If you have any problem with the way Wrights "sound bits" that were taken "out of context" then please apply the same standard to Bill Clintons comments.

    Wright has totally hit the naiil on the head. Obama is a politician and he is doing what politicians do.....

    Obama is just the best politician of the bunch, hes so good he has everybody thinking hes not a politician.

    Oh and a complete hipocryt, take a look at Rezko and Robert Blackwell, Jr... He might not take money from Washington lobbyist, just State ones

    "You cant fool all the people all of the time, but if you fool the right ones the rest will fall behind" – Dead Prez

    April 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  3. Priscilla for Obama

    Rev. Wright does not represent the black church. He is out of touch and he is doing this for profit. He's an opportunist and he will do anything for money.

    God Bless Obama and God Bless America!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  4. Micahel Guinn Ventura,CA

    To those who don't know who Barack Obama really is--perhaps if you would stop shouting about him long enough to LISTEN you would realize, as millions of us already have, who and what Barack Obama "really is".
    A man of courage, a man of hope, and a man with a PLAN to turn this Nation around!
    Rev. Wright has many good points- and some that to me are "off the wall"- But REV WRIGHT IS NOT BARACK OBAMA- HILLARY ISN'T BILL>

    April 28, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  5. Matt

    What is the big deal? Dr. Rev. Wright's message is positive and misunderstood. Hello. Did anyone hear Wright say that European Americans were at the forefront of African American freedom from slavery. Tell your political analysts to quit dissecting Wright's every word and focus on the word of God. Then just maybe, you may be able to receive the message.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  6. Tim

    I feel that if Clinton wins the nomination Reverend Wright and his large number of supporters will feel as though they are proven right as far as racial injustice in modern America. This will greatly hurt her chances of obtaining the African American vote in the general election; a vote that she desperately needs.

    Nashville, TN.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  7. ed fl

    Pastor Wright is wrong and he has just set the timetable back about 12 years before an african- american will have a real opportunity to rise up to be that leader of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  8. EJ

    Why couldn't Wright wait til after IN & NC primaries?

    I can't even watch the news today – I'm overwhelmed. I will watch 10pm and that's it. Too much of Rev. Wright all day long.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:20 pm |
  9. tammy isaacs

    What about Obama's comment on people being bitter and holding on to our religion. Rev. Wright didn't say it Obama said it. Hello!!!! Now we should stay off of the Rev. and religion in politics. Obama brought it to the table then. Come on. I guess we are going to have a double standard for Obama. If it had been Hillary that made that foolish statement you would be running it in the ground. But it wasn't.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  10. Jacqueline

    Amen, Brother, Fred! Amen!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  11. LaTonja

    Race is a problem and has been one for a long time. The country has made a lot of progress, but there is still much more that needs to be done. Barack's campaign is bringing to life issues that need to be discussed.

    If talking about race is so difficult, we haven't got has far as we think we have.

    Where is all the outrage over the conservative preachers? Hagee, Falwell, and the others? This really shows how race is still and issue. So Hagee again repeated last week that God punished NOLA with Hurricane Katrina because of homosexuality....BUT NO OUTRAGE, OUTCRY, OR REPEATED LOOPS ON TV! I guess it is ok for some people to say God will punish the US, but not for others to say it.

    What is the problem with saying that the US government is not perfect and has committed some atrocious acts? Should we blindly follow and accept everything that the government says is right....I guess that is how we got into Iraq.

    Barack is still the best candidate by far.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
  12. Ed

    Can some one please explain to me why this is newsworty? As a white pastor, it seems to me that CNN is being racist in its coverage. It is Jeremiah Wright all of the time, yet no one can do investigative news anymore, only from youtube. This guilt by association is one way, Anderson Cooper has yet to devote an hour each day on why Hillary Clinton does not go to church. She must not because we know nothing about her pastor.

    Anderson is incapable of investigating the horrible remarks made by the pastors McCain went seeking and finally gaining support from Haggee and Parsley. There are plenty of sermons to discuss with him about gays and Katrina, and that the Catholic Church is continually referred to as the whores of babylon. Nothing but a blurb, yet a whole week on the Pope's visit, and nothing mentioned to ask McCain.

    Yet, we know virtually nothing about his pastor in Arizona and the controversy of why McCain is not a member of his church. Evangelicals have a right to know about the controversial statements that his pastor has spoken. But sadly, you do not know because of your tabloid journalism. Thank you for your continual racist bias while claiming to be unbiased. Go on with your panals on black theology, yet know one is an expert or has written books on, so it is all speculation and no facts. Good job Anderson!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  13. Moses W

    Naturally, since you are a Republican, your opinion would be biased....but to inflame an already tense racial politics as "un patriotic" clearly shows you do not know what you are talking about! I hope you heard Rev. Dr. Wright at the Nationa Press Club when asked about his patriotism: "I served 6 years in the military, how many deferrements/leaves did Bus and Chaney receive?"

    Please next time, don't waste the space to write such garbage if it does not benefit the discussion!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm |
  14. MiMi

    I enjoy All of the media coverage! The good, the bad, the ugly.
    It constantly reminds me of the significance the Black Pastor and
    Black Church has in the sustaining maintenance of the
    Black Experience.

    The Black Pastor and Black Church educates with
    reality,equips for possibilities while promoting and
    substantiating durability. Blacks are a people of
    Promise, Purpose and Possibility.

    Barack Obama has the compassion, competency, and
    capability to reform and transform our country. If
    given the opportunity, we can go where we have never
    gone before!

    Of all the candidates, he will evoke a new

    Cheers to a fresh start!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  15. cassandra carr

    Would this man just go away. You would think he was running for President the way this election is focused on him, and not Senator Obama. You can tell he really wanted to be an actor or comedian the way he performed on television (I WASNT IMPRESSED). Senator Obama is what this Country needs, and he should be able to obtain that office without the unpleasant distraction of The Great (humf) Rev Wright, and all of his what has now become complete stupidity. You are a Reverand act like one!

    April 28, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  16. mel

    Oh my gosh...enough of the Rev Wright coverage. I have never seen Rev Wright on CNN before this election, and now he has become a fixture on CNN. He is not a candidate for the election, but CNN-you seem to be focused on trashing Obama. I have not really heard much about Hillary Clinton in the last few days...have the nominees changed CNN and someone forgot to tell us. Sorry for my sarcasm, this rev wright story is getting frustrating! Please move on...

    April 28, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  17. Bill, New London, CT

    Its sad that we, as a nation, are so defensive about our sins that we rip apart anyone who tries to point them out to us. Didn't we nuke two major Japanese cities? Didn't we drop bombs on women and children during "Shock and Awe" in Iraq? Come on people. We know better. If you're ashamed of your country, don't cover up its faults, and make Rev. Wright out to be the Antichrist, change it.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  18. Fred

    Why, with all of the problems that we have in this country today, are y'all dwelling on this Rev. Wright person? I want to know what the candidates have to say on the issues confronting us. And let me make it clear that I am talking about real issues such as the war and the economy. Instead, all I get is irrelevancies.

    When the heck is the Cable NEWS Network going to knock off the yellow journalism and give us some news?

    April 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  19. Christina

    The more Rev Wright speaks the more it becomes a problem for Obama, but as I have been saying all along this country is not ready for a black president. Look at what has happenned here, this ias gone form bad to worse and it seems to keep going on and on.
    Who is Obama? that is what people will continue to say. He will be the nominee but he will not win the presidency at all.

    I have heard enough of Rev Wright, he needs to shut up now.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  20. robert arthur preston

    has anyone considered the context of obama's bitter comment as being exemplified in rev. wright's angry sermons?
    it seems like that comment about white Christians using faith and cultural practices can similarly be applied to the way that Wright's words are construed as hateful and indignant. any thoughts?

    April 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm |
  21. Rev Dr. Curlie Ray Jr

    I beleive that Rev Wright is a man of God, But ' how much longer are we going to here about what has happened to the black man. I dont here the Indians making such a fuss. The Black man needs to move out of the past . I dont know of any Black men today that is being treated like their ancestors. Lets all stop looking at race and look at people as people. We are all Americans. The Church needs to keep its nose out of politics and preach the word of God.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm |
  22. Jess

    This whole thing about "Reverend Wright". We (whites) don't understand the "Black Church" so we don't know when we're being vilified, hated, mistrusted, and we are made the root of all evil in the world. It's true, he (a Reverend) said it, so we are all that bad! It must be true to a Presidential candidate who put cash in the collection plate to hear the hate speech every week for 20 years! That's believing!

    Obama dug himself a huge crater when he chose, freely, to hear racist hate speeches week after week. There is guilt by association, if it goes on repeatedly for decades! Wright's rantings are not isolated acts of indescretion. He built a huge chruch with his hate. A person would have to be a moron to say this is a "sound bite".

    April 28, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  23. Erica Dallas,Tx

    The reality of this situation is that this is a black tradional church and if any Black American wants to be President, 9 times out of 10 would be assicated with a Pastor like Rev. Wright. Is it fair to say that America will never have a black president because of this exact issue? This is very disappointing to Black Americans

    April 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  24. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Ed, I like Obama but I don't like his views on some issues, his Rev. I for the most part agree with him, it's raw but true most of the time. What is wrong is how he makes fun of the Euro/ Americans that is un call for. Yet I don't think that the Obama lovers will see anything wrong with it. My vote in Nov. is up in the air.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  25. Anna

    Firstly, I'm a 90 year old caucasian lady and I agree with EVERYTHING the Rev. Wright stated. Why do people get upset when they hear TRUTH? The Reverend even stated that OBAMA was game even after/if he wins the presidency. And we call ourselves a "great country"..and I say this with the small "g"! As much as I hate saying this, this country have not changed in any sense at all of treating ALL equally.


    April 28, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  26. carlton

    First of all i'm a black male.Secondly if barack obama isn't good enough for white america or others then in my opinion white america believes no black person is deserving of the presidential position.

    Action speak louder than words.Regardless of rev wright,there has never been a person of color as president.So rev wright maybe correct in his thoughts.

    citizen of virginia

    April 28, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  27. Mary

    Nothing why should he? the reverend is not on the ballot. Why always make
    supposition under speech of someone else against obama versus wright... Whats the problem with america... Don't you prefer talk about the issue

    April 28, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  28. Susan McGeachy

    Bravo Rev Wright! Finally the whole world gets to know more then the 30 sec. sound bites the media has portrayed. Lou Dobbs flat out HATES OBAMA and all those around him. All of his focus and comments have digs.
    I found Rev Wright to be a brilliant man. I truely felt I miss judged him based on CNN's bias. I was happy to see the entire sermon and understand where he is coming from. I respect Rev. Wright for stepping up to the plate and speaking from his heart.
    This has firmed up my vote. Obama is the best person for the Job.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  29. Miss E

    Maybe Wright decided Obama has the nomination about sewn up so him (Wright) running his mouth won't hurt Obama too much.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  30. Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA

    I would like to know why so much attention is being placed on the words of Reverend Wright when so little is said about the ravings from other spiritual advisors to Presidents and other politicians such as Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, and the Reverend John Hagee who John McCain has embraced as one oh his staunch supporters?

    CNN and the rest of the media should put all of this in perspective by airing some of the racist, misogynistic, homophobic and unpatriotic comments made by these and other "spiritual" advisors to the Presidents.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  31. Marg

    that's why you're on the outside looking in

    April 28, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  32. Ron In TX.

    Obama is not who everyone preceives him to be
    Anderson I have a question for you. Why has no one in the media addressed Michelle Obama's view about the Rev. Wright? If this story were about the Clinton's, you can bet your bottom dollar that Bill would be getting hammered by the media.
    I'll say this to Rev. Wright. Thank you, thank you, thank you Rev. Wright. Please keep on speaking your Racism. You are killing Obama's chances for the Presidency, and I for one appreciate it. You alone have made him unelectable, something that most have know for a long time.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  33. Annie Kate

    Whoever the real Obama is, lots of people will still question despite Obama's attempt to disassociate himself from Wright's comments why Obama stayed and listened to these type of messages for 20 years. I understand that one doesn't have to agree with everything the pastor says from the pulpit; I understand that the church is more than just the pastor but a supportive community; what I don't understand is how someone who claims to be a uniter and not divisive, would listen to this kind of polarizing message from the pulpit for 20 years and not be influenced?

    Perhaps Obama should get busy defining himself by his specific plans for change and buy Rev Wright a nice prolonged vacation to Hawaii until the election is over. I'd like to know the real Obama and what he stands for – without Rev. Wright in the background, and without the misstatements of Obama's wife and himself (bitter) to cloud the issue.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  34. Pat

    Come on now; this is getting rediculous! Is there so little that his opponents can find to say about Barack Obama that they (his opponents) and the media (are you his opponents too?) have to keep harping on Reverend Wright. I listened to Rev. Wright's comments to the press this morning and I found him informative, smart and funny; and yes, he knows his bible. Sad to say, I had to agree with what he said about the war and the way the United States has treated the poor and the disenfrancished. And I know that anyone who listened to the entire comments of Rev. Wright had to agree too.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  35. david

    why do you and cnn want obama to loss. you and cnn will do any thing and say anything to make sure that their is no black president. if obama losses, the world will see america as the most racist country in the world. the world is watching anderson.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  36. Peter Esquilin

    What do people actually expect Senator Obama to do ., he distance himself from the Rev. Wright controversy and yet again and again like litlle old ladies we continue to gossip and and tear this poor Senator at the very least doing his best in this throw the kitchen sink contest. In retospect Senator Clinton is not exactly a classy lady who should br running since like other back-stabbing politicians before her used anything or say anything to get elected . There are alot of other problems out there that were so focused on this issue and lord all mighty people should get a life. Senator Clinton has proven she continus to kick you even youre down so should Obama lose I will go undecided that way my vote will not go to waste.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  37. Jacqueline

    Who is the real Obama? Hmmm.....Let's see, the man is being tested with fire and you ask, who is the real Obama?! If fire cannot reveal the essence of a person, then nothing else can.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  38. Mari, Salt Lake City

    Last I heard people STILL have the freedom of speech. Rev. Wright has a right to speak, and we have the right to disagree.

    There has been a rather scary attitude in our country since the Bush people took 'over' that if you don't agree with the majority then you are evil or worse, un-American!

    I feel for Sen. Obama, because he is being judged by the words of someone else!

    Please, people, get a grip! Wright DOES NOT SPEAK FOR SEN. OBAMA!

    I am still hopeful that the American sense of fairness will win out!

    April 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  39. Jacqueline

    It seems to me that Wright is now intentionally trying to undermine Senator Obama. But why? Hmmm.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  40. stevo

    Clinton is a Clinton is a Clinton...she will say anything or do anything or drink anything to get elected....

    April 28, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  41. Jackie Buchanan

    Obama should follow King Soloman's lead and ask for "wisdom". Rev. Wright does not speak for me or my Blackness.
    Cut the Mic.
    Rev. Wright is not Jesus and Obama is not....Peter. He can denie him 30 times if he wants to. And anyway I thought there was a separation of Church and State. Ministers should go back up in the pulpit and preach the Gospel and leave what is Ceasar's to Ceasar.
    Jackie B.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  42. xtina, chicago IL

    Rev Wright is like a father to Barack Obama. That's why his presence is a factor in the candidacy of Obama. No matter how people try, they won't be able to justify Rev Wright's hateful things about a country some of us still love. No matter how Obama and his wife and his pastor say that America is mean and that it victimizes people, a lot of voters will know that that's not true.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  43. Tita

    I still don't know who I'm gonna vote for: Obama or Hillary.

    And I don't care what Rev. Wright says or does, he's not running for President.

    McCain is a Bush supporter and I wouldn't vote for anyone who
    had Bush as a FRIEND.

    We all have 'friend' we don't necessarily agree with politically, but still like personally. As Justice Scalia said last night on 60 Minutes "it's
    not personal".

    Obama can have any one at his table as a friend, a least he is not
    wanting to bomb everyone because he doesn't like what they believe.

    I'm leaning towards Obama today.
    Maybe tomorrow, Hill.

    What's important to me is who can work with ALL kinds of people, even folks who's opinions are not to their liking.

    Undecided Demo.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  44. Maritza

    Thank you Ed Rollins,

    I agree 100% with what you've said , This Rev 's tone is anger , pure hate, what others can't read between the lines is plain and clear to many patriotic Americans, Black , White , Hispanic , people that love their country appreciate the liberty , freedom and opportunity it offers to all. Obama has not only raised serious concerns about what he really represents and who he associates himself with , but also a larger more important question Change ? to what ,? With the recent endorsement of Hamas, his very questionable affilation with the Rev "gone wild ", this relationship is not new, it extends 20 years, He lied when he said he had sat there time and time again and did not know that the Rev had made any controversial anti American , or hateful sermons? , the change they speak about is one that would scare any clear minded , intelligent person , this so called Change is not anywhere near what this country needs , I hope it's not the one in the book of Revelations.


    April 28, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  45. Malcolm Moore

    I was thrilled to hear the Rev. Wright speak "in context" on CNN. Like many people, I had only heard sound bites, and began to question this man and his beliefs. But when you listen to his remarks in their entirety, you must come to the conclusion that the man makes sense. He is undoubtedly saying things that are on many African American minds...and I suspect white Americans as well. The difference is that white Americans do not want to be reminded of the sins of the past. It is too painful to acknowledge. Easier to sweep under the rug and hope it fades into distant forgotten memory. This country cannot heal until it acknowledges and apologizes for its horrendous past. Until that happens, blacks and whites will continue to be at odds with one another resigned to ignorant stereo types of one another forever reacting in fear.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  46. Maisha

    Over the past couple of weeks I've watched the mainstream media persecute Rev. Wright. Until recently the media made no attempt to investigate the facts or play larger sound bites to try to contextualize Rev. Wright's sermons until there was a large out cry from the black community. Now that Rev. Wright has been forced to defend himself, the media tries to minimalize their role in prevoking the tone of the response. Based on the way the media has villanized him and tried to discredit him every time that Rev. Wright thinks about responding the mainstream media shouldn't have a problem with it. Regardless of Rev. Wright's spirited delivery everything he said, in his address is absolutely true. The attention needs to stay on the facts.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  47. linda., bella vista, ar

    What are the REAL ISSUES of this election?

    The RACIAL issue is such a convenient elephant to ride while more horses get out of the barn.

    Bell bottoms and Cassius Clay.........

    April 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  48. Teresa Snyder

    I was wondering how to view the "whole" sermon of Jeremiah Wright. You know the one... " GD America" . I would really like to see the whole thing. I don't know how a "pastor" can stand in a pew and say GD and still be called a man of god! If anyone knows how to get a copy of this please let me know. Maybe CNN could air it!

    April 28, 2008 at 7:06 pm |
  49. Mason

    People commenting that they had enough of Rev. Wright. Why? For more than two months they used him to attack Obama unfairly, now they don't like that he's fighting back. The bullies only like it when they can hit you and you don't hit back. I for one hope he speaks out and speaks out alot. When you stop using him to attack Obama then maybe he'll have reason to go away.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  50. E.J.

    nothing Obama can do – just wait and pray

    April 28, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7