Pastor's remarks hurt Obama, area supporters say

Obama supporter Sheila Eldridge said she was heartbroken to hear the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a former pastor of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, was in the news again after comments he made at a National Press Club address Monday.

 

"It's just a week away (from elections in Indiana and North Carolina)," she said. "I just can't understand. Why now? I understand Rev. Wright's passion, but the timing is just bad."

Ms. Eldridge, the vice president/general manager of Perry Broadcasting of Augusta, said the Rev. Wright's recent attention will distract voters from the issues and make it tough for undecided voters to "evaluate the whole picture."

"It does limit those persons on the line to really evaluate Obama's platform," Ms. Eldridge said. "We need to be addressing his platform so that people are not voting just for the candidate but for key issues that affect their family and lives."

Others in the community agreed the light shone on the Rev. Wright's views will distract undecided voters and put a negative spin on Mr. Obama's campaign.

The Rev. Wright, a former pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, has been quoted making comments that paint America as a terrorist nation and the American government as sponsors of the AIDS epidemic in the black community. He did not retract those comments in Monday's address. He also insinuated Mr. Obama's distancing from his comments were "what a politician had to say."

"If Sen. Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected," the Rev. Wright stated in the address to the press club members.

There would not have been a "good time" for the Rev. Wright to clear his name, but it was necessary, said Dr. Mallory Millender, a Paine College journalism professor.

"People aren't going to let it go away," said Dr. Millender, an Obama supporter. "I think those who tended to support him in the beginning will. The undecided voters, I just don't know how they will interpret this."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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