Dems' Battle Hits Easter Pulpit, Airwaves

Even on the Christian holy day of Easter, the Democratic presidential campaign rhetoric kept on buzzing -- from the pulpit to the airwaves.

Some ministers tackled the fiery remarks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor at Sen. Barack Obama's Chicago church, that many found hateful and anti-American and that may have jeopardized Obama's campaign.

"His role is not the role of a politician but the role of a pastor," said the Rev. Chuck Currie, interim minister at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ in Portland, Ore., "and sometimes pastors have to provoke politicians and the political order for the world to change."

Not all sermons were so sympathetic to the Rev. Wright.

As for Obama himself, according to the Web site Politico.com, in a radio interview to be broadcast Monday in Philadelphia, he defends his church, saying, "Despite these very offensive views, this guy has built one of the finest churches in Chicago. This is not a crackpot church. Witness the fact that Bill Clinton invited him to the White House when he was having his personal crises."

The New York Times on Friday posted a 1998 picture of Wright and Bill Clinton shaking hands at a breakfast that the paper said was provided by the Obama campaign.

Other recent campaign controversies spilled onto the Sunday morning political debate.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson fired back at criticism from Hillary Clinton ally James Carville, who compared him to Judas for endorsing Obama Friday despite past ties to the Clintons.

"I'm not going to get in the gutter like that," Richardson, a former presidential candidate, said on "Fox News Sunday." "And you know, that's typical of many of the people around Sen. Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency."

Richardson suggested that if Obama maintains his lead in pledged delegates through the primary season, it might become a good idea for Clinton to bow out of the race.

"This bloodletting that would go between the last primary and the convention is not serving us well," Richardson said. "I mean, it gets negative proportionately more every single day."

But Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, site of the next Democratic primary on April 22, said Clinton's dominance in the larger states' primaries may be reason for her to stay in the running.

"You don't become president by winning the most states," said Rendell, a Clinton supporter, on "Fox News Sunday." "You become president by winning the states with the most electoral votes. Sen. Clinton has a 65-, 70-vote lead in states carried in terms of electoral votes."

Both Richardson and Rendell decried what they saw as a turn toward "negativity" in the race, and seemed to agree that retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, a co-chairman of the Obama campaign, may have gone too far Friday in comparing former President Bill Clinton to red-baiting former Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Critics felt Bill Clinton was suggesting Obama lacked patriotism when he told a crowd in North Carolina Friday, "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country. And people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."

Richardson conceded, "I don't believe President Clinton was implying that" Obama lacked patriotism.

Rendell cited McPeak's remarks as "an example of the negativity that Gov. Richardson is talking about. If they want to tone it down, don't accuse someone of McCarthyism."

After a hectic week Obama is taking time off in the Virgin Islands.

Not Clinton. Playing catch up in elected delegates, she has scheduled a major speech Monday on the nation's economic woes.

ABC News' Michael S. James contributed to this report.

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