During a town hall in Plainfield, Ind., Barack Obama brought up controversial statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, weaving the storyline into the history of race in America, perhaps another attempt at distancing himself from his pastor’s commentary.
“You heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships,” Obama said.
“If all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked," he said. "And it just, it reminds me that, you know, we’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country.”
He used the comments as an example of the divisions that are still present in society.
“The forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again, and I’m not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody senses the shift,” he said, referencing recent reporting and commentary by supporters of different candidates.
Obama, who said he has “little pieces of America” in him, said there is still a lot of pent-up anger, bitterness and misunderstanding, but that if the country wants something different they’ve got to move beyond divisions.
He then summoned words from Bobby Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, upon receiving news of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
“When people say things like my former pastor said, you have to speak out forcefully against them," Obama said. "But what you have to also do though is remember what Bobby Kennedy said, that it is within our power to join together to truly make a United States of America.”
Obama’s town hall in highly Republican Plainfield followed a night of cable appearances by the senator explaining the extent of his relationship with Wright and repudiating the preacher’s controversial comments that moved into the media spotlight this week.