Edwards Defends Obama Against Clinton MLK Comments

Jan 13, 2008 12:19pm

ABC News’ Raelyn Johnson Reports: At a campaign stop at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter, South Carolina, former Sen. John Edwards used the pulpit to address controversial comments New York Senator Hillary Clinton made about Martin Luther King – suggesting that he needed a president’s help to make significant strides in the civil rights movement.

"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change that came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, but through a Washington politician," said Edwards in front of a congregation of nearly 300 people.

"I fundamentally disagree with that. Those who believe that real change starts with Washington politicians have been in Washington too long and are living a fairytale."

Edward was speaking about a recent interview Sen. Clinton recently gave Fox News where she said, "Dr King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done."

Clinton continued," That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people’s lives, because we had a president who said ‘we’re going to do it,’ and actually got it done."

Clinton’s comments were made late last Monday and were a direct reaction to what Obama said earlier in the day, defending himself against Clinton’s contention that he offers false hopes.

Today Edwards defended Obama saying, "We’ve come a long way in the 54 years that I’ve been on this earth. But not far enough. We still have work to do. And the hopes that both Sen. Obama and I have for this nation and this country that we love so much these are not false hopes, they’re real hopes."

At the start of his remarks Edwards noted, "As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel an enormous amount of pride when I see the success that Sen. Barack Obama having in this campaign." He joking added, "I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that some days I wish he was having a little less success."

Edwards attended church service Sunday morning to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Reverend James Blassingame.

"James, you’re a testament to the fact that good things can come out of South Carolina," said Edwards. "When we were in school we weren’t allowed to go to school together. But glory be to God we were allowed to worship together."

Edwards was joined by Rep. Leon Howard, head of the legislative black caucus and state senator John Land who has also endorsed Edwards’ campaign.

During the service Edwards sang the hymn of praise, "At the Cross" along with the choir. At the meet and greet portion of the ceremony, members of the congregation flocked to Edwards, taking pictures with their cell phones and asking the former senator to autograph church programs.

The love fest between Edwards and Obama has some wondering if Edwards is in the race to be Sen. Obama’s VP, rather than sit at the top of the democratic ticket.

"I’m running for the democratic nomination, I think maybe he should be running for my VP," Edwards clarified, following a campaign stop at in Florence, South Carolina.

In town to greet voters at Roger’s Bar-B-Que and Seafood restaurant, Edwards reiterated his sentiment that he takes pride in the fact that Sen. Obama and his campaign have been so well received.

"I think it says good things about America, good things about the progress that we’ve made," said Edwards—who wasn’t short of compliments as Sen. Clinton and her husband former Pres. Clinton have recently come under fire for scrutinizing Obama.

Edwards has said unequivocally that he does not want to be VP.  Late last week his 2004 running mate John Kerry endorsed Sen. Obama.

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