Clinton: Wright 'would not have been my pastor'

March 25, 2008 9:06:13 PM PDT
Senator Hillary Clinton made her first public comments Tuesday about the controversy over Senator Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Speaking in Pennsylvania Tuesday afternoon, Senator Clinton said she would have made a different choice than her opponent.

Hillary Clinton says you can't choose your family, but you can choose your pastor, and she wouldn't have joined, or stayed, in a church where the minister made inflammatory, anti-American comments, like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, on numerous occasions at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Barack Obama's been trying to put the controversy behind him, but Tuesday at least his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination is making that impossible.

"I think, given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said. "But, I was asked what I would do if he were my pastor, and I said the choice would be clear for me."

Hillary Clinton's comments about Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, come on the same day a church in Tampa, Florida, canceled Reverend Wright's appearance Tuesday night because, according to the pastor, local police said they couldn't provide enough security.

"With care and concern and to safeguard our speaker, our parishioners and others who may come, we have made the conscious decision to ask Pastor Wright to remain in Chicago," said Rev. Earl Mason, Bible-Based Fellowship Church.

As for Clinton's comments, Obama spokesman Bill Burton says, "It's disappointing to see HC's campaign sink to this low in a transparent attempt to distract attention from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia."

Clinton said earlier Tuesday that she simply had a memory lapse about the 1996 trip, which is something, she claims, that happens to everyone occasionally.

"We were very much told by the Secret Service and military that we were going into a war zone and had to be conscious of that. I was the first First Lady taken into a war zone since Eleanor Roosevelt and I think the military and security service did take precautions," Clinton said.

Hillary Clinton says that when you visit 80 countries in eight years in the White House, and dozens more in six years as a senator, there are bound to be memory lapses, and she is blaming this one on fatigue.

"Whether she remembers when she landed in Bosnia, whether it was sniper fire, it means nothing," said political analyst Paul Green.

Green says all the negativity between Clinton and Obama means little in the short-run. But if it continues until the convention, it could be damaging to the Democratic nominee in November.

"Of course it hurts. It will make it tougher to get back together after the convention," he said.

As for the Reverend Wright controversy, Barack Obama has a lot to say. But he's not blaming his association with Wright on memory lapses or multiple sermons. He is, however, claiming he never heard most of Wright's most inflammatory comments in church or from others.


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