Obama Defends Wright's Reputation, Not Words

"What I tried to do in that speech was to give an, an honest accounting of both sides. A sense that, you know, both sides have angers and resentments. But ultimately, we have so much more in common than divides us," he said.

Obama said he has friends on the right side of the political spectrum who "say things that I find pretty crazy as well."

"My goal is to, is to try to get my arms around this country as a whole and, and to see if, if we can get people to talk and recognize each other, even if they disagree," he said.

Obama said he hopes to get back to talking about other substantive issues the country faces.

"I am not interested in having, in wallowing in a lengthy conversation about race," he said. "What I was trying to do in the speech was point out that we often use racial divisions -- or politicians often use racial divisions as a way of ignoring the common problems, like terrorism, or the foreclosure crisis."

Obama said the Wright story dominated the news at a time when the country marked the 4,000th U.S. military death in Iraq.

"My argument is not that we should focus obsessively on race. My argument is, we should acknowledge the dangers of racial division, precisely in order to focus on those problems that we all have as common as Americans," he said.

Bitter Democratic Battle Continues

The junior senator from Illinois knows he's in the hottest horse race of his political life -- ahead in the pledged delegate count, popular vote, and states won.

"It's tough," Obama said. "We have been campaigning now for a long time. We have got very ardent supporters on both sides. And you know, the media these days enjoys a good horse race, and this is about as good of a horse race as you could get."

But Obama dismissed the argument that there will be long-term damage to the party.

"I don't think we are hurt, long-term. I think short term, there is gonna be work to do for the nominee to bring the, the party back together again. People feel pretty passionate about their respective candidates. I appreciate that, and I understand it," Obama said.

But Obama noted the ongoing Democratic battle has allowed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican nominee, to go relatively unchallenged.

"Sen. Clinton and I are in an active contest right now, and John McCain is traveling around the world and, you know, making speeches without really being the target of any significant debate or attack," the Illinois senator said.

"And so I, I think what's gonna happen is that there are gonna be some bruised feelings, whoever the nominee is. We are gonna have to come together and remind ourselves that there is a heckuva lot bigger difference between either Sen. Clinton or myself, and John McCain," Obama said.

Obama, who often describes his Democratic opponent as "tenacious" said today, "Sen. Clinton has run a very tough, hard-fought campaign."

Taking on McCain

Despite intense interest in the Democratic race, Obama insists voters want to focus on the issues.

"They want to talk to me about the potential for $4 a gallon gas. They want to talk to me about their mother who is about to lose their home to foreclosure. They want to talk to me about how to save for their own retirement and send their kids to college at the same time," Obama said.

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