Transcript: Obama and Clinton Debate

And I think it's important that that starts from a base of respect and connection in order to be able to get people to follow you and believe that you will lead them in the better direction.

GIBSON: Senator Obama, since you last debated, you made a significant speech in this building on the subject of race and your former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And you said subsequent to giving that speech that you never heard him say from the pulpit the kinds of things that so have offended people.

But more than a year ago, you rescinded the invitation to him to attend the event when you announced your candidacy. He was to give the invocation. And according to the reverend, I'm quoting him, you said to him: "You can get kind of rough in sermons. So, what we've decided is that it's best for you not to be out there in public." I'm quoting the reverend.

But what did you know about his statements that caused you to rescind that invitation? And if you knew he got rough in sermons, why did it take you more than a year to publicly disassociate yourself from his remarks?

OBAMA: Well, understand that I hadn't seen the remarks that ended up playing on YouTube repeatedly. This was a set of remarks that had been quoted in Rolling Stone magazine and we looked at them. And I thought that they would be a distraction, since he had just put them forward.

But, Charlie, I've discussed this extensively. Reverend Wright is somebody who made controversial statements, but they were not of the sort that we saw that offended so many Americans. And that's why I specifically said that these comments were objectionable. They're not comments that I believe in. And I disassociated myself with them.

And what I also said was the church and the body of Reverend Wright's work over the course of 30 years were not represented in those snippets that were shown on television and that the church has done outstanding work in ministries, on HIV/AIDS, prison ministries, providing people with the kind of comfort that we expect in our churches.

And so, what I think I tried to do in the speech here at the Constitution Center was speak to a broader context, which is that there is anger in the African-American community that sometimes gets expressed, whether in the barbershop or in the church. That's true not just in the African-American community. That's true in other communities, as well.

But what we have the opportunity to do is to move beyond it. And that's what I think my candidacy represents. And Senator Clinton mentioned earlier, that we have to connect with people. That's exactly what we've done throughout this campaign.

The reason we've attracted new people into the process, the reason we've generated so much excitement, the reason that we have been so successful in so many states across the country, bridging racial lines, bridging some of the old divisions, is because people recognize that, unless we do, then we're not going to be able to deliver on the promises that people hear every 4 years, every 8 years, every 12 years.

And it's my job in this campaign to try to move beyond some of those divisions, because when we are unified there is nothing that we cannot tackle.

GIBSON: Senator Clinton, let me -- I'm sorry, go ahead -- Senator Clinton, let me follow-up and let me add to that.

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