Obama on Wright: ‘He Does Not Speak for Me’

By Ed O'Keefe

Apr 28, 2008 6:06pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Sen. Obama says he can’t be held responsible for the opinions of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

"I have said before and I will repeat again that some of the comments that Reverend Wright has made offend me and I understand why they’ve offended the American people," Obama told reporters hastily gathered for an impromptu press conference on the tarmac in Wilmington, N.C.

"He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign and so he may make statements in the future that don’t reflect my values or concerns," Obama continued, later adding with a smile, "I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we’re not coordinating with him."

Speaking the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, Rev. Wright called the recent criticism surrounding his sermons "an attack on the black church".

"This is not about Obama, McCain, Hillary, Bill or Chelsea, this is about the black church," Wright said, speaking before an enthusiastic audience of black church leaders at the onset of a two-day symposium.

Throughout his speech and a subsequent question and answer session, Wright defiantly argued that many of his critics had not heard his whole sermons and that the media had twisted his words.

The Reverend said he was quoting a previous U.S. Ambassador to Iraq when he said African Americans should sing "God damn America" not "God Bless America" in his first sermon following the 9/11 attacks.

"You cannot do terrorism on other people and not expect it to come back on you," Wright said at the National Press Club on Monday. "Those are Biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright ‘bombastic’ principles."

Wright also took on those who characterize him as unpatriotic, taking a dig at the vice president in the process.

"I served six years in the military," Wright said. "Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?"

Wright pointed to congregants at his Trinity United Church of Christ who have served in the U.S. military, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

"My goddaughter’s unit just arrived in Iraq this week while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls to die over a lie," Wright said.

Wright did not seem to blame Obama for distancing himself from the now-retired pastor. "If Obama did not say what he said, he wouldn’t get elected," Wright said.

"I am a pastor, he is a member. I’m not a spiritual mentor, I’m his pastor," Wright continued, sharing that he told Obama if he wins the White House "November fifth, I’m coming after you. Because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people."

"I do what pastors do, he does what politicians do," the Reverend said before injecting humor into his remarks. "I’m not running for office. I am open to being vice president."

The Obama campaign, however, might not be laughing.

The candidate, following a day of events in North Carolina, said, "He’s obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasis he is my former pastor. Many of the statements he made both to trigger this initial controversy, and that he’s made over the last couple days are not statements that I heard him make previously. They don’t represent my views and they don’t represent what this campaign is about. But he’s obviously free to make those statements."

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Nitya Venkataraman contributed to this report.

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