From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:
PHILADELPHIA -- Barack Obama attended a Jewish community gathering this morning at a Philadelphia area synagogue, where he defended his relationship with his Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama said he spoke to Wright about controversial remarks privately, instead of denouncing him publicly. "I'll be honest with you, I did not become aware of them until I started running for president. And at that point, yes, I had conversations with him, which I shared with him my deep concerns," Obama said. "The caricature that's been presented of him is not an accurate depiction of who he is as a pastor."
Obama said he believes the controversy will not hurt him in a general election, but believes that "scurrilous e-mails" about his race and name may have caused some discomfort with Jewish voters. "A lot of it has been generated as a consequence of the fact that I'm African-American and that at times there've been tensions between the African-American leadership and the Jewish community," Obama said. "So I just want to emphasize what's in my heart, which is that my ties to the Jewish community are not political. They precede me entering politics."
While Obama continues to address the Rev. Wright controversy, he is getting some help in trying to quiet the criticism that he is an elitist. Bruce Springsteen, who sings often about his working class roots, endorsed Obama today, posting a message on his website that says the "bitter" controversy is being exaggerated. "While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man's life and vision," it reads.
The American Hunters and Shooters Association also endorsed Obama, saying they "wanted to set the record straight." Obama told a group of fundraisers that some small town Americans "cling to guns…as a way to explain their frustrations" a week and a half ago. The association believes, however, that Hillary Clinton has "turned her back on American's gun owners."