Ferraro Steps Down From Clinton Campaign

After making racially-charged comments about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., former vice presidential Democratic nominee Geraldine Ferraro stepped down Wednesday as a surrogate and member of the finance committee for the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"She made the decision that she wants to continue talking about this and didn't want to do this in a way that would cause the campaign problems," a Clinton campaign source told ABC News.

The source insisted that the campaign did not ask Ferraro to leave.

That does not mean, however, that the Clinton campaign had not asked her to shut up.

Wednesday evening, speaking before the National Newspapers Publishers Association, Clinton distanced herself from the comments with stronger language than she had yet used, saying, "I said yesterday that I rejected what she said and I certainly do repudiate it. I regret deeply that it was said obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions. And she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee."

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Ferraro caused the Clinton campaign embarrassment and controversy after telling a California newspaper that if Clinton's rival, Obama, "was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Read Ferraro's newspaper interview here.

Instead of backing down, Ferraro took to the airwaves to insist there was nothing offensive or wrong about what she'd said, keeping a story alive that fed into a narrative in which quotes from various Clinton campaign surrogates were used to portray the Clinton campaign as race-baiting.

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While refraining from calling the comments "racist," Obama, Wednesday, accused Ferraro of conducting "slice and dice" politics.

"I think that her comments were ridiculous. I think they were wrong-headed," he said. "The notion that it is a great advantage to me to be an African-American named Barack Obama and pursue the presidency, I think, is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public."

Obama's campaign, however, called for the Clinton campaign to fire her.

After speaking to Ann Lewis, a senior adviser to the campaign, Ferraro, 72, Wednesday sent an e-mail to Clinton, saying:

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"Dear Hillary —

"I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to make this a better world for my children and grandchildren. You have my deep admiration and respect.

"Gerry"

Ferraro, the previous Honorary New York Leadership Council chair for the Clinton campaign, had pledged to continue raising money for Clinton, even if she were to leave the campaign.

Ferraro could not be immediately reached by ABC News for comment. Just this morning, she stood by her controversial comments suggesting Obama wouldn't be succeeding in the Democratic nomination battle if he weren't black.

"I am sorry that people think this was a racist comment," Ferraro said in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" Wednesday.

At the time, she declined to apologize directly for the firestorm she created with her comments.

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