Obama Says He Didn't Know About Minister's Statements Until Recently

(CBS)

From CBS News' John Bentley


PORTLAND, ORE. – As the uproar surrounding Barack Obama's minister Jeremiah Wright continues, Obama clarified his position about when he heard Rev. Wright make his controversial statements. "I wasn't aware of the AIDS conspiracy statement, which I think is completely out of line and off the wall," Obama said. "I wasn't aware of his statements, God damn America. Those statements were not ones that I knew about until the story broke a week and a half ago."

Wright also said that the attacks of 9/11 were the fault of America's foreign policy. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans," Wright said in a sermon shortly after the attacks in 2001. "Now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards."

Obama said he knew about those statements shortly after he decided to run for president, over a year ago, but not from actually sitting in the pews. "The 9/11 statement I became aware of in the New York Times after I announced my candidacy," he said. "The reason I did not decide to leave the church was because I saw Rev. Wright retiring."

Obama said he was responding to media reports that accused him of flip-flopping on his position about when he heard the Rev. Wright make the statements. "It's been suggested," he said, "that somehow there was a flip-flop or a contradiction between previous statements about not being aware of Rev. Wright's statements and my statement in the speech that I was aware of controversial statements he's made. There's no contradiction there."
  • John Bentley

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