Obama Tries To Move Past Controversial Pastor

(CBS)

From CBS News' John Bentley

PLAINFIELD, IND. -- Speaking out against his controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama said Wright made statement that were "incendiary and that I completely reject," but that he would not allow them to derail his campaign. "If all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked," Obama said. "It just reminds me that we've got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country."

The fiery pastor at Obama's church has been quoted as saying that blacks should condemn America for "treating our citizens as less than human," and that the U.S. brought 9/11 on itself because of its foreign policy.

Hoping to put the controversy behind him, Obama invoked Bobby Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. "He said, at that moment of anguish, we've got a choice in taking the rage and bitterness and disappointment and letting it fester and dividing us further," Obama said. "Or we can take a different path that says we have different stories, but we have common dreams and common hopes."

This is the first public visit to Indiana for either Democratic candidate, but it could become a battleground state during their May 6th primary. The northern part of the state is in the Chicago television market, where Obama is frequently on the news, and two of Indiana's largest cities, Indianapolis and Gary, both have significant African-American populations, which have voted overwhelmingly for Obama. But there are also a number of blue-collar employees in the state, who tend to vote for Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind, is actively campaigning for her.

Aware of the 72 delegates and 12 superdelegates that are at stake here, Obama opened his speech by thanking Indiana's newest Congressman, Andre Carson – who also happens to be an uncommitted superdelegate. He closed his speech by telling the crowd of around 3000 that he would be actively campaigning in Indiana, and that he "needs people who are willing to get involved."