|Obama: Our country has 'a choice' |
Sen. Barack Obama, hoping to silence the firestorm over race that has engulfed his presidential campaign since his pastor's anti-American sermons began circulating Friday, today called for America to "move beyond some of our old racial wounds" to unite around issues.
In what was billed as one of the defining issues of his campaign, Obama said Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments expressed "a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America."
Obama said Wright's comments were "not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems -- two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic healthcare crisis and potentially devastating climate change." The nation's problems, Obama said, "are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all."
Seeking to recapture the message of racial unity that marked his campaign kick-off more than a year ago, Obama spoke to supporters at the National Constitution Center, a museum in Philadelphia honoring the nation's founding. Standing at a podium in front of eight U.S. flags, Obama sought to distance himself from Wright's racially-tinged remarks without denigrating the man who has been his pastor for nearly 20 years, officiated at his wedding and baptized his two daughters.