Local Politics

Obama decries 'distractions' before primary

Posted May 1, 2008

— Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told WRAL News that he will focus on issues such as gas prices and health-care costs – and not "incendiary comments" made by his pastor – in the final five days before North Carolina's primary.

Sermons by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, created a "distraction" for his campaign in the past week, Obama said. The Illinois senator said he "was very angry and had to denounce" those comments, which included suggesting that the AIDS virus was invented by the government to destroy "people of color."

"That's been the reporting, and we weren't talking about gas prices; we weren't talking about bringing jobs back to North Carolina," Obama said. "We're looking forward, the next five days, to focusing on the things that really matter to your viewers."

A poll released Thursday showed Obama's once double-digit lead over rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has shrunk to 7 points, with 9 percent of voters undecided.

Obama said he was not surprised by Gov. Mike Easley's endorsement of Clinton and emphasized his endorsements by U.S. Reps. David Price and Mel Watts, state Rep. G.K. Butterfield and "major mayors," including those of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

Obama's wife, Michelle, will speak on Friday at The Durham Armory, 220 Foster St., at 11:30 a.m., and at Quad University of North Carolina at Asheville's Quad at 4:30 p.m.

The Durham event is free, but tickets are required. They can be picked up at a table outside the Old Durham Ballpark, Corporation and Morris Streets, until 7 p.m. Thursday.

Obama contrasted himself with Clinton and the GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain, claiming that he has a history of "truth-telling" and bringing people together.

Obama criticized his rivals' plan – first proposed by McCain – to suspend the 18.4 cent gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. His plan of "a middle-class tax cut, $1,000 for working families," though, would give "real relief," Obama said.

"That's the real choice, I think, that North Carolina voters are going to be facing," Obama said. "Do they want policies that are simply designed to get through the next election, or do they want someone who's going to be talking to them honestly about how we're going to solve problems?

"I think they recognize that the problems we face now require that kind of change," he added.

Obama recalled scrimmaging with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball team on Tuesday – and his near-score against Tyler Hansbrough.

"I had to take myself out after about five minutes, because at 46, trying to keep pace with the national player of the year and his teammates was a little bit much," Obama said. "When that lay-up dribbled out, I was heartbroken.

"But they couldn't have been more gracious, and Coach (Roy) Williams is a class act."

North Carolina has 115 pledged delegates up for stake in its May 6 primary.


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  • wolff May 2, 2008

    "'God hates american'----Wright did not say..." -shacreasman

    My fault! Wright actually said 'God D#@%$ America' My mistake, glad you corrected me on that one.

  • casp3r May 2, 2008

    Obama said he was "shocked and surprised" by the "offensive" comments and yesterday appeared to break with his pastor personally. "The person I saw yesterday is not the person that I had come to know over the past 20 years," Obama said. "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate."

    That divisiveness, Obama said, strikes at the heart of his campaign, which he said he started "with the idea that the problems that we face in this country are too great to continue to be divided."

    HMMMMMMM we all must be wrong including Obama

  • thinkbeforespeaking May 2, 2008

    'God hates american'----Wright did not say.....but if he did he is not excluding himself and did not say he hates white people. and he said the "chickens are coming home"----you reap as you soe..... "white people import drugs to kill black folks"---yes a little far fetched but doesn't not qualify as hate or racism......try again

  • wolff May 2, 2008

    I am still trying to figure out what Wright said, that was racists and hate filled.....can anyone give me a quote or something that says I hate a certain group, a certain group is beneath the black race....or something....pleae help me -shacreasman

    He said 'white people created AIDS to destroy minorities', 'God hates american', 'we are at fault for 9/11', and 'white people import drugs to kill blacks'... then he clarified all by saying that was what he really believed in several interviews and speeches. You decide if that is racist and hateful ...

  • jsmith3 May 2, 2008

    Boston...the person responsible for problems that Obama faces now and over the past 2 week is HIS pastor (who is black if I recall correctly). Not a member of the KKK or a Nazi. If you lay down with dogs, you will get fleas!

  • thinkbeforespeaking May 2, 2008

    I am still trying to figure out what Wright said, that was racists and hate filled.....can anyone give me a quote or something that says I hate a certain group, a certain group is beneath the black race....or something....pleae help me

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama May 2, 2008

    Barack Hussein Obama speak: Distractions are anything that makes Barack Hussein Obama look bad and takes him away from his scripted speaches, talking points, and sermons.

  • ncguy May 2, 2008

    Obama is a much to elequint speaker to trust. Words just roll off his tongue like a used car salesman!!!

  • Dr. Dataclerk May 2, 2008

    Pay no attention to this Wright man. He is foolish and ignorant and still trying to make a name for himself.

    On May 6 cast your vote for a man - Obama for your President. He will get the job done and right. An honest man with integrity.

  • Redd May 2, 2008

    I knew certain people in this country would find a way to block people of color from the white house.