After videos surfaced last week of Barack Obama’s preacher making incendiary comments including a reference to white America as “the U.S. of KKK A” and declaring “God damn America,” the presidential hopeful faced a firestorm of controversy. Today, the senator formally addressed his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright in a speech at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, an attempt to quell voters’ fears that their beacon of change takes cues from a pastor with anti-American sentiments.
“Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely—just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed,” Obama stated. Rev. Wright’s remarks “were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.” But Obama didn’t chose entirely to separate himself from the preacher, who not only officiated his wedding and baptized his daughters, but was a spiritual adviser to the campaign until last Friday. “As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me,” Obama said, after describing his experience at the Trinity United Church of Christ.
New York based image consultant Samantha von Sperling says that’s the last Obama should be seeing of his pastor. “It’s harsh, but he’s got one shot and if he wants to be president he better be very careful who his associates are,” says von Sperling. And, that includes friends and family who continue to frequent Rev. Wright’s church. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If friends and family aren’t on the same train, he needs to get another train.”