Obama 'Disappointed' By Priest's Comments

Friday, May 30, 2008


Obama 'Disappointed' By Priest's Comments

Barack Obama moved to distance himself from another preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ on Thursday after controversial comments by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago, were circulated online.

"Don't hold me responsible for what my ancestors did, but you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did," Pfleger said from the pulpit of Trinity on Sunday. ". . . Unless you are willing to give up the benefits, you must be responsible for what was done in your ancestors' generation. We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises his head. . . . When Hillary was crying, people said that was put on. I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe she just always thought this is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white, and this is mine! I just got to get up and step up to the plate. Then, out of nowhere, came Barack Obama!

"I'm white, I'm entitled, there's a black man stealing my show," he continued, feigning tears. "She wasn't the only one crying -- there were a whole lot of white people crying. . . . I'm sorry, I don't want to get you in any more trouble."

Obama released a statement saying he was "deeply disappointed" in Pfleger.

"As I have traveled this country, I've been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that unites us. That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause," Obama's statement said.

Pfleger issued his own apology: "I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama's life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them."

-- Krissah Williams


Former Smoker, Current Runner

Barack Obama is in "excellent health," according to a letter from his longtime physician released by the senator's campaign. And yes, that gum he's often chewing is Nicorette.

In the 21 years that David L. Scheiner, a Chicago internist, has treated Obama, the patient has reported a series of small problems, including rashes, respiratory infections and unspecified -- but possibly basketball-related -- minor injuries.

Scheiner noted a history of cancer in Obama's family. His mother died in her early 50s of ovarian cancer, and his grandfather died of prostate cancer. As for Obama, "his own history included intermittent cigarette smoking," Scheiner wrote. "He has quit this practice on several occasions and is currently using Nicorette gum with success."

Obama chews gum often on the campaign trail, although never on stage.

Scheiner last saw Obama in January 2007, before he hit the campaign trail. The fitness-conscious candidate goes on regular three-mile runs, his doctor reported, and "his diet was balanced with good intake of roughage and fluids." Obama's eating habits are famously disciplined. Staffers say he favors salmon for dinner and trail mix for snacks.

"In short, his examination showed him to be in excellent health," Scheiner wrote. "Senator Barack Obama is in overall good physical and mental health needed to maintain the resiliency required in the Office of President."

-- Shailagh Murray


Clinton Stumps in South Dakota

WATERTOWN, S.D. -- Looking for an upset in a state where key leaders have endorsed her opponent, Hillary Clinton campaigned in three towns in South Dakota, echoing familiar themes of improving education, expanding health care and the importance of her staying in the race through the final primaries.

While referring to the men who she also described as "a friend of mine" (John McCain) and "my Democratic opponent" (Barack Obama), she spoke of them only to offer her usual arguments: She has more experience than Obama, and McCain would govern like President Bush.

"I believe it is important Montana and South Dakota get to have the last say in this important election," she told a crowd in this town in the western part of the state.

While the primaries in Montana and South Dakota, both of which will be held Tuesday, will do little to change Obama's lead in the competition for delegates in the Democratic race, South Dakota is the last truly competitive state. Clinton is heavily favored to win on Sunday in Puerto Rico, and Obama on Tuesday in Montana.

Obama is backed in the state by Sen. Tim Johnson and Rep. Stephanie Herseth, as well as by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

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