Rev. Wright's Impact on Obama's Campaign

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," May 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREGG JARRETT, GUEST HOST: Well, obviously, these new polls are stunning to say the least. Obama says though he doesn't want the Wright issue to be a potential distraction from his campaign, reiterating again today that he wants to get past all the so-called "noise" in the last few weeks and focus on the issues at hand. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, you know — obviously, we've had to fight through over the last week an awful lot of noise, and that's - that's just a fact. I think the American voters don't want a whole bunch of drama.


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JARRETT: So, what now? Democratic strategist and Obama supporter, Andrew Rosenberg joins us now live.

Andrew, Obama's message of hope and change is being overly drowned out by Reverend Wright's message of anti-American, anti-white hate. So, what should Obama do and what can he do?

ANDREW ROSENBERG, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he should do exactly what he is doing, and that is to address the issue head-on as he has, to completely denounce the comments and the opinions.

JARRETT: But he did.

ROSENBERG: And he has. But we have to let this story unfold a little bit. We're taking a snapshot in time. If the media had been this obsess over the last two weeks with Senator McCain's — one of his chief religious leaders, reverend or Pastor John Hagee who has called the pope the anti-Christ and has spent two weeks talking about that over and over, you would have all sorts of questions raised and you had polling showing that Senator.

JARRETT: Yes, but Hagee wasn't the pastor or mentor of Barack Obama. But look, going back to Tuesday's news conference, I mean, it was be abundantly clear that Barack Obama was denouncing his pastor, his long-
time friend. He called his rants appalling, offensive, outrageous, divisive, destructive — I mean, that's not resonating with voters. A majority just didn't believe Obama.

ROSENBERG: Well, give it sometime. I think that the amount of time that the media has spent covering Reverend Wright is still disproportionately much greater than the amount of time that was spent on covering Senator Obama's denunciation. And I think that over time, over the course of the campaign, voters are going to allow this story to come and go.

Look, over the last year, we've had big stories that erupt and they've come and they've gone and we've taken polls and we vote (ph) - and at the end of the day, Senator Obama is still far out in the lead. No matter who.

JARRETT: All right. Columnist Michael Goodwin put Obama's problem this way — let's put it up on the screen. "The more you know about Reverend Wright, the more you doubt Barack Obama. It's hard to trust Obama's leadership instincts if he truly admired Jeremiah Wright." I mean, really, and isn't that the core problem for Barack Obama? Voters seem to believe that he harbors a stunning lack of judgment, and judgment is critical if you're president of the United States?

ROSENBERG: Well, there's no question it's a challenge. And I think that many of us, and certainly I have, have been taken in by people that I thought were one way, only to find out that we didn't share the same values and we cut off relationships. This has been an incredibly public and humiliating, and I'm sure, personally depressing episode for Senator Obama.

But I can tell you, you know, to the point of those, like Juan Williams who were making comments about how this may have been the evidence of political decision-making by Barack Obama, Obama has always had his eyes set on public service, on higher office. I really truly believe that if he had thought that if the pastor was this kind of man, he wouldn't have associated with him in the first place.

JARRETT: Well, yes — I mean, look, people don't believe that he just tolerated Reverend Wright. They think he shares his views. Maybe he needs to do what Hillary Clinton did, sit down for a long discussion with Bill O'Reilly. That's an audience that he's after and he needs them.

Andrew Rosenberg, Obama supporter, thanks very much. Megyn?

ROSENBERG: Thank you so much.

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