Questions linger: "In his achingly slow steps toward repudiating the repugnant words of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama has run the risk of serious political damage by leaving vague what it was that attracted him to this outspoken critic of American society," Washington Post columnist David Broder writes.
"His vulnerability transcends relations with a radical preacher," columnist Robert Novak chimes in. "If Obama is seen as not just a presidential candidate who happens to be black but as the black candidate in the mold of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, he faces a difficult struggle in the general election against John McCain even if he bests Hillary Clinton for the nomination."
Do Clinton supporters have enough time to make this argument? "When you're new to the public stage you're a little more susceptible to having the canvas painted in by your political opponents," Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., tells The Washington Post's Dan Balz, saying that Republican will try to "Swift Boat" Obama over his relationship with Wright. (You sure?)
Clinton herself judged Wright's comments "offensive and outrageous" in her interview with Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly -- her strongest words on the subject to date, per ABC's Eloise Harper.
(And it's not just on Fox that Clinton is reaching across party lines: She tells People magazine that her dream celebrity date would be with Abe Lincoln, in an interview where she says she's never had cosmetic surgery -- and has never heard of Red Bull. Reporters covering her 19-hour days don't want to introduce her to it.)
Obamaland knows that the Wright furor isn't over yet. Michelle Obama, on the "Today" show Thursday morning: "I think we gotta move forward. You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids. You know, it doesn't help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we're going to better fund education."
In North Carolina, we may yet have a race. "North Carolina's Democratic presidential primary is tightening, with Sen. Barack Obama's struggles in distancing himself from his controversial former pastor apparently eroding his once formidable lead," Rob Christensen writes in the Raleigh News & Observer. "U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of Wilson, an Obama leader in North Carolina, said Obama has been hurt by the Wright controversy."
"The question for Obama is, how much damage did Wright do?" Jim Morrill writes in the Charlotte Observer. "A strong showing by Sen. Hillary Clinton in North Carolina could reinvigorate her campaign and perhaps sway crucial superdelegates."
Wright is undeniably on voters' minds. "Despite his best effort, in a meeting with about 30 voters at Garfield Park in Indianapolis, Obama again found himself explaining that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's views are not his own," Mary Beth Schneider and Maureen Groppe write in the Indianapolis Star.
And Indiana is undeniably on the campaigns' minds. "Keep your eye on Indiana," Maggie Haberman writes in the New York Post. "That's the message an undecided superdelegate said he got from both Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama this week as the two resumed phone calls to Democratic Party bigwigs. 'Both conversations focused on Indiana,' where voters head to the polls Tuesday, said Don Bivens, an Arizona superdelegate who has yet to commit to a candidate."