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Barack Obama again faces queries about Rev. Wright

April 2, 2008 |  9:56 pm

Barack Obama continued today to tread the fine line he's been walking in discussing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Meeting up with MSNBC's Chris Matthews for a lengthy interview in front of a college crowd in Pennsylvania, Obama disassociated himself from the more extreme comments uttered by his ex-pastor, but not from the man himself.

And while insisting -- as he has previously -- that he was not present when Wright made the pronouncements that fueled the recent furor, he steered clear of specifying the "controversial" statements he has said he did hear from the preacher.

Left hanging was the question that may determine Obama's political fate -- will his approach to the flap suffice?

Matthews assuredly would have broached the topic of Wright, but it was raised first by a student at West Chester University, who asked Obama how the uproar had affected his "spiritual life."

Obama made a point of noting he is a Christian who prays "every night." He wryly added: "And when you’re running for president, you pray even more."

He called the controversy that erupted over Wright and his relationship to him "a difficult moment.  You know, this is somebody who, on the one hand, is a good man, but said some things that I deeply disagree with."

Matthews returned to the matter later, asking why ...

Obama had stayed a part of Wright's congregation (as well as noting that he had contributed a sizable amount of money to the church over the years). The following exchange ensued:

OBAMA:  I think that what has happened is we took a loop out of — and compressed the most offensive things that a pastor said over the course of 30 years, and just ran it over and over and over again.
There is that other 30 years.  I never heard him say those things that were in those clips.

MATTHEWS:  But you did say you heard him say controversial things.

OBAMA:  But I’ve heard you say controversial things.

MATTHEWS:  You didn’t give me $27,000 dollars either.

OBAMA:  The point is this is a church that is active in AIDS.  It’s active on all kind of thing.  And so this is a wonderful church.  But as I said, look at the amount of time that’s been spent on this today, Chris.  At a time when we haven’t talked about a whole host of issues.

The interview wound to an end shortly after that. But as much as Obama clearly wanted to move on, just as clearly he can expect questions about Wright to be a staple at future forums and debates.

-- Don Frederick

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