Monday, March 17, 2008

Barack Obama Interview on Eve of Speech About Race

Barack Obama speaks to Gwen Ifill about Rev. Wright and Rezko

Obama says he answered almost every question the Chicago Tribune asked about Rev. Wright and at the time that was recognized.

Here's the full transcript

we've excerpted the portion we thought of interest

Interview: PBS Newshour, Gwen Ifill, March 17, 2008

MS. IFILL: The distinction between you and Senator Clinton that’s been drawn by both of you over the last several weeks has been judgment versus experience. So let me ask you about your judgment on some issues, not only Reverend Wright and your association with him over the years but also Tony Rezko who you’ve talked a lot about recently, the Chicago developer who is now on trial on federal charges. Do you think that your association with those two people or people we don’t know about would raise questions about your judgment?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, no, look, all of us have people in our lives who we meet, we get to know, in some cases form friendships with, who end up getting themselves into trouble or say things that we don’t agree with. And probably what’s true is because I haven’t been in Washington as long as Senator Clinton or others that I have not distanced myself from these people for as long a period of time as somebody more steeped in Washington politics might have. But keep in mind, on all these issues, there is no allegations that I’ve done anything wrong, just as in the situation with Reverend Wright there is no allegation that I’ve said something that was inappropriate. And so I think the American people recognize that all of us have friends or associates or people who we meet along the way who are not ideal or perfect. But that’s part of what life is about.

MS. IFILL: But let’s talk about political judgment. Neither of these are new issues. Are these things you could have laid to rest some months ago?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, no, I mean, part of the reason that I went into talk to the Chicago papers about the Rezko matter was there was the suggestion that we hadn’t laid it to rest. And in fact, I was before the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune sometimes for a combined three hours. And in fact, we had answered almost every question that they had raised previously. And the Chicago Tribune issued a very lengthy editorial afterwards indicating the fact that, well, you know what? He has actually disclosed exhaustively what this relationship was. And it was in which I had nothing to do with the wrongdoing that Mr. Rezko is accused of.

I understand though that I’m now a presidential candidate. So having done this six or nine months ago, it was probably important for us to do it again. And I suspect when I’m the nominee of the Democratic Party, the same crop of questions will come up. We’ll have to do it again three months from now.

USA Today Blog, On Politics, had a partial transcript with their focus

Obama urges moving on from anger & bitterness of Rev. Wright and others
On tonight's The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Sen. Barack Obama talks at some length about the controversy over things the senior pastor at his church has said and how racial issues are playing in this year's presidential election...

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