Obama 'outraged' by ex-pastor

Democratic presidential candidate says remarks on race "divisive and destructive".

    Wright suggested that Obama secretly
    concurred with his views [EPA]

    "I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday," Obama said.


    "At a certain point if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally and then he questions whether or not you believe it ... then that's ... a show of disrespect to me."


    The Illinois senator said that the relationship he had with Wright "has changed as a consequence of this".

    Wright defence

    After weeks of staying out of the public eye while critics lambasted his sermons, Wright made three public appearances in four days to defend himself.

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    Speaking to Washington's National Press Club on Monday, he said that the attacks on his remarks amounted to a misunderstanding of the African-American church and its development through years of slavery and repression of the US black community.
    "God damns some practices and there's no excuse for the things that the government - not the American people - have done," he said. 
    "That doesn't make me not like America or unpatriotic.''

    He also stood by his suggestion that the US government invented the HIV virus as a means of genocide against minorities and suggested that Obama secretly concurred with his views.


    "If Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected," Wright said. "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."


    Obama stated flatly on Tuesday that he does not share the views of the man who officiated at his wedding, baptised his two daughters and been his pastor for 20 years.


    "What became clear to me is that he was presenting a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for," Obama said.


    "And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing."


    The Illinois senator said Wright's statements on Monday were "a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in truth".


    Obama said he understood the pressures Wright faced but would not excuse his comments.


    "I think he felt vilified and attacked and I understand him wanting to defend himself," Obama said. "That may account for the change but the insensitivity and the outrageousness of the statements shocked me and surprised me."


    His strong words come just six weeks after Obama delivered a sweeping speech on race in which he sharply condemned Wright's remarks but did not repudiate the minister, who he said was like a family member.


    Obama had then said the comments were "wrong" and "divisive" but that he could no more disown Wright "than I can disown the black community".
    Wright, who has retired from the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, later resigned as an adviser to Obama's campaign.
    'No excuses'
    On Monday, Obama said he had given Wright "the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia explaining that he's done enormous good".


    "But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the US government somehow being involved in Aids... There are no excuses. They offended me. They rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced."


    The controversy began in early March when video clips of Wright's sermons surfaced on the YouTube video channel, in which he said the September 11, 2001 attacks were the result of US foreign policy, or that "America's chickens are coming home to roost".
    In the excerpts, Wright also condemned racial prejudice in the US and suggested that the US government had created the Aids virus to kill "people of colour".

    "I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks, but what I do want him to be very clear about ... is that when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I'm about and who I am."

    Obama, who lost the latest primary election in Pennsylvania to his rival Hillary Clinton, remains ahead in the crucial delegate count for the nomination.
    The next round of presidential primaries will be in North Carolina and Indiana on May 6.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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