Obama fields questions about Rezko

March 6, 2008 5:08:15 PM PST
Senator Barack Obama's name came up Thursday at the Rezko trial. The Democratic presidential contender has faced some tough questions lately about his connections to Rezko. ABC7's Andy Shaw spoke with the senator Thursday.

Obama's still feeling confident, even after losing three out of four states on Tuesday, because he continues to lead Hillary Clinton in delegates, popular votes, number of states won, and in fundraising, announcing Thursday that his campaign collected $55 million last month, an all-time record for a presidential primary. And most of the money came from small donors. He will probably need every one of those dollars to fend off attacks from Clinton, Republican John McCain, and reporters who still have a lot of questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko.

Obama was at ABC7 Thursday afternoon to tape an interview with Charlie Gibson for World News Tonight, but first we asked him a couple questions about the Rezko trial, which began Thursday, with Rezko's attorney saying the two met when Obama was at Harvard Law School and Rezko offered him a job at his development company.

"This was a friend and supporter of mine prior to all the trouble that he's gotten into. It is what it is. And, you know, I trust the criminal justice system to deal with something that has no relation to me," said Obama.

Obama talked about his relationship with Rezko at a new conference in Texas on Monday, which ended with reporters shouting for the candidate to stay around and answer more questions, including a decision not to sit down with Chicago reporters for a long Q&A about his relationship with Rezko, political, personal and business.

"Andy, you've been in multiple press conferences where you guys have run out of questions," Obama said.

The Clinton campaign is trying to make Rezko a major issue, and Obama's fighting back by demanding that Clinton release a ream of personal and financial information, which is prompting the Clinton team to compare Obama with Republican lawyer Ken Starr, the special prosecutor in multiple investigations of then president Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

"I did not realize that their version of new politics is to recycle some of the same old Republican attacks on Hillary that have failed for years," said Ann Lewis, Clinton spokesperson.

"I can't imagine they delivered that message with a straight face. They spent the last two weeks, three weeks, insisting that we need to disclose things that will allow me to be properly vetted. And when we suggest that they should disclose their tax returns, like most presidential candidates have done, like I have done, did last year, they somehow invoke the name of ken Starr. I think it's ludicrous," said Obama.

It may be ludicrous, but that and all of the other attacks are likely to go back and forth in the coming weeks, because there is so much at stake in the next 10 or 12 primaries.

The Obama campaign is still considering a lengthy Q&A session with local reporters to answer any lingering questions, and they're considering a lot of requests for documents that haven't been released yet because they know that some members of the media aren't satisfied with the information so far, but the Obama campaign is hoping reporters put the same amount of pressure on Clinton, and eventually McCain, when it comes to finances, disclosures and ethics.