As Obama Distances Himself From A Different Pastor, Another Creates Controversy At GOP Event

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

NEW YORK -- Vice President Dick Cheney attended a fund-raising dinner tonight for New York Republicans, which at one point was led by a pastor's prayer that went after Barack Obama and his former controversial pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Monsignor James Lisante, a local religious leader from Long Island, prayed to God as he attacked Obama.

"Please Lord, tell Senator Obama that maybe change is a good thing," prayed Lisante. "And maybe he should think about changing his favorite preacher."

As the Republican crowd reacted in with a collective "Ooooh!" followed by cheers, Lisante continued his incantation.

"I know a lot more of us would be comfortable with his judgment skills if he hadn't sat for twenty years through those words, often by his preacher of division, bigotry and honestly half truths, without a word of objection from Senator Obama. That is until the media brought it up, now he doesn't want have any part of the guy. I'm willing to be his new preacher."

The crowd, which included former New York City mayor and GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., responded with cheers.

Monsignor Lisante is a pastor from Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Hempstead, New York.

Obama distanced himself earlier this year from Rev. Wright, a pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, after controversial clips of his sermons were posted online and broadcast by news networks. Obama also found himself distancing himself from another pastor friend tonight, Rev. Michael Pfleger.

Earlier, Cheney, who was not in attendance during the prayer, told fellow Republicans that the solution to America's rising fuel prices was not to move away from oil dependency, but to generate more oil refineries in the United States.

"We also need to produce more oil and gas inside the United States," said the vice president, who only mentioned alternative fuels as an aside.

"We haven't built a new refinery in the United States in fifty years," said Cheney, blaming Democrats for standing in the way and saying the answer to rising gas costs would be to process "in American refineries, by American workers."

He told the crowd they need to put their shoulder to the wheel in order to beat Democrats, including the race for president, in November.

Cheney went on to quote former Democrat Zell Miller, who spoke at the 2004 Republican Convention, saying Miller along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch were Democrats who came to the realization that Democrats had become too "left-wing."

In regards to the Bush tax cuts, Cheney urged fellow Republicans to work to elect leaders from their party in order to continue President Bush's tax cuts, saying they needed to vote into office a "Republican Congress to make the cuts permanent and a Republican president to sign them into law."

Otherwise, Democratic leaders would allow the cuts to expire he explained, adding "they wouldn't have to move a muscle to do it."

Later, Giuliani joked, "This is the most Republicans in Manhattan in a long time. We're really outnumbered here."

Giuliani said he believed John McCain would beat Obama, assuming he wins the nomination over Hillary Clinton.

"If they would like to fight it out longer, please be my guest," said Giuliani. "What do we care, right?"

Over 700 people attended the fund-raiser at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York City, which was held by the New York Republican State Committee.

One of the fund-raiser's organizers said the event planned not only to raise money for Republican candidates, but to demonstrate how "great and excited the Republican Party is in the state of New York."