Barack Obama says he has not suggested to his recently retired pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, that he retreat from the national stage and stay behind the scenes in Chicago until the end of presidential primary season—if not beyond. Not even privately? Though Obama’s top aide said today that Wright’s re-emergence is “not helpful,” his staff declined to comment further.
But with just a week to go before crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina and Obama locked in a tight battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, most in his camp would no doubt consider Wright’s silence golden.
However, Wright’s commanding, unapologetic, and at times confrontational appearance before a friendly and boisterous crowd early today at the National Press Club made clear that Obama’s fiery former pastor who built Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago into an 8,000-strong powerhouse has no intention of going quietly into the night. His recent publicity blitz, including a revealing sit-down with PBS’s Bill Moyers that aired Friday and spirited speech yesterday before the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, means that Obama’s relationship with his longtime preacher will remain front and center at precisely the time questions about his electability in the fall are being highlighted—mostly by Clinton.