CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Barack Obama sought to distance himself further Friday from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, telling a North Carolina rally that comments by his former pastor that have been described as ”crazy” should not be used to judge his candidacy.
Obama has said his presidential bid was damaged by a recent series of public appearances by Wright, in which the pastor repeated earlier charges the Sept. 11 attacks were retribution for U.S. foreign policy and that the U.S. government had a hand in spreading AIDS to blacks.
But the Illinois senator, locked in a battle for the Democratic nomination with Sen. Hillary Clinton, said earlier on Friday in Indianapolis he would leave it to the pollsters to analyze the extent of the impact from the Wright flap on his campaign.
Obama broke publicly with his longtime pastor earlier this week when he called a news conference to criticize Wright’s remarks as “outrageous” and “appalling.”
“As we’ve done well in this election, as we’ve been successful, increasingly my opponents have spent their time talking, not about the issues, but about me,” Obama told a rally of about 9,000 people at Charlotte’s Cricket Arena.
“They’ve been saying, ‘Well, look at those crazy things his former pastor said or he’s not wearing a flag pin or he’s got a funny name, sounds like he’s Muslim,’” he said. “Those are strategies to divide us. We’ve seen those strategies before.”