Entries in Jeremiah Wright (6)


Obama Friend Denies Jeremiah Wright Allegation of Bribe

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of President Obama’s closest friends denied to ABC News a charge against him made by the president’s former spiritual adviser, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In a new book by conservative author Ed Klein, The Amateur, Rev. Jeremiah Wright says, “after the media went ballistic on me, I received an email offering me money not to preach at all until the November presidential election.”

The friend is not named in the book, but on his media tour, Klein has said the individual about whom Wright made the allegation is Eric Whitaker, a close Obama friend since graduate school and from Chicago, and Associate Dean and Executive Vice President of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

In an email to ABC News responding to Wright’s charge, Whitaker wrote: “I have received your message asking whether I’d offered any sort of a bribe during the 2008 campaign. The answer is no. Thank you for giving me the chance to respond.” He didn’t respond to a follow-up question.

Rev. Wright did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

In his book, Klein recounted a conversation with Wright in which he described an email “'from one of Barack’s closest friends." Klein asked: “He offered you money?” Wright responded: “Not directly. He sent the offer to one of the members of the church, who sent it to me.'” The offer was for $150,000, Wright told Klein.

When ABC News asked the White House to comment about Wright’s allegations, press secretary Jay Carney pointed to Ed Klein’s oeuvre and said the author “lacks a certain amount of credibility.”

He does. Some of Klein’s charges in previous books -- many too outlandish to even repeat -- have led his fellow conservatives such as Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan and John Podhoretz to disparage his journalism.

In this instance, Klein had audiotapes of his conversation with Wright, tapes provided to ABC News by the publisher. The conversation above is not among the tapes, but a different section was included, in which Wright described a 2008 meeting with then-Sen. Obama. Klein asked Wright if then-Sen. Obama was “aware that Eric Whitaker had offered you money?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t mention that,” Wright responded, saying that Obama told him it would hurt his campaign if he continued to speak in public.

The Amateur has reached the top of New York Times non-fiction best-seller list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Defends Wright Quote: ‘I Stand by What I Said, Whatever It Was’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- What began as the resurrection of one of the most animated characters in the 2008 campaign on Thursday ended with Mitt Romney being forced to answer to reporters and consequently offer up a flub of an answer on whether he supports negative ads.

After a leaked super PAC proposal to make ads about President Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Romney tried to distance himself from the document, saying it was the “wrong course.”

But a reporter noted that in February, Romney brought up Wright unprompted in an interview -- a clip that Democrats unearthed early in the day.

In the clip, after a sound bite of Obama saying “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation” was played, Romney said he believed Obama didn’t understand “that Judeo Christian philosophy is an integral part of our foundation.”

“I’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying we must be a less-Christian nation,” Romney said.

Romney’s explanation on Thursday fit right into a frame opponents have tried to put around him -- that he doesn’t know what he supports and what he opposes.

“I’m not familiar with precisely what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was,” Romney said Thursday.  “I’ll go back and take a look at what was said there.”

The Obama campaign was, predictably, all over Romney’s stumble.

“Today, Mitt Romney had the opportunity to distance himself from his previous attempts to inject the divisive politics of character assassination into the presidential race,” read a statement from Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.  “It was a moment that required moral leadership, and once again he didn’t rise to the occasion.”

The proposal to revive the inflammatory pastor in 2012 ads is likely to end at just that: a proposal and nothing more.  A person familiar with the super PAC told ABC News that no plan had been made to make any ads.  Making the ads appears even less likely now that the idea has drawn condemnation from the Obama campaign and Romney himself.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney, Billionaire Joe Ricketts Disavow Plan to Tie Obama to Jeremiah Wright

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Reports of a plan to air attack ads against President Obama by rehashing ties to his former pastor, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, quickly drew the condemnation Thursday of presumed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Joe Ricketts, the money man reported to be considering the plan.

Romney on Thursday disavowed the conservative group that The New York Times said had planned to possibly bankroll the ads.

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described,” Romney told the conservative website “I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity, particularly for those in the middle class of America.”

The Times reported Thursday that a $10 million plan developed by “a group of high-profile Republican strategists” and Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, will seek to link “Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.”

“The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an ‘extremely literate conservative African-American’ who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a ‘metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln,’” the Times reported.

But a statement released on behalf of Ricketts argued that the Wright plan was only one being considered by the PAC. Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Ricketts is an independent who is focused on fiscal policy to help defeat President Obama.

“Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take,” according to the statement released by Baker.

“Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a president this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”

Romney said if anyone is guilty of launching personal attacks, it is the Obama campaign, which he accused of “character assassination” against him.

“I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination,” he added. “I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about....It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’s doing, and saying, ‘Why is he running an attack campaign?  Why isn’t he talking about his record?’”

Prior to the candidate’s own remarks about the report, first reported by The New York Times, Romney had told the media aboard a charter flight that he had yet to read the papers and couldn’t comment.

Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, also issued a statement distancing the campaign from the unaffiliated GOP group and arguing that Romney would run his campaign based on issues, unlike, according to Rhoades, the Obama campaign.

“Gov. Romney is running a campaign based on jobs and the economy, and we encourage everyone else to do the same,” Rhoades said in an email statement. “President Obama’s team said they would ‘kill Romney” and, just last week, David Axelrod referred to individuals opposing the president as ‘contract killers.’ It’s clear President Obama’s team is running a campaign of character assassination. We repudiate any efforts on our side to do so.”

Prior to Romney’s interview with Townhall, the Obama for America campaign accused Romney of “falling short” in his campaign’s response.

“This morning’s story revealed the appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and SuperPacs apparently are willing to go to tear down the President and elect Mitt Romney,” it said in a statement Thursday. “The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself.  It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics.  Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney: Bain Attacks Part of Obama's "Character Assassination" Attempt

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney said Thursday that he is “disappointed” in President Obama’s campaign for being “focused on character assassination,” specifying that he considers the president’s attacks on his career at Bain to be an attempt to make him appear to be “not a good person or not a good guy.”

“I have been disappointed with the president's campaign to date, which is focused on character assassination,” said Romney. “I just think that we're wiser to talk about the issues of the day, what we do to get America working again, talk about our respective records.”

When asked to specify what he considers to be a character assassination, Romney pointed to the recent advertisement released by the Obama reelection campaign that pegged him as a “job destroyer” for his time at Bain Capital.

“Obviously his efforts to look at my work at Bain is to try to characterize me in a way that isn't accurate,” said Romney. “My effort at Bain Capital, as you know, was in effort case designed to make the enterprises we invested in more successful, to grow them.”

“There's this fiction that some have that somehow you can be highly successful by stripping assets from enterprise and walking away with lots of money and killing the enterprise.  There may be some people who know how to do that. I sure don't,” said Romney. “And the purpose of the president's ads are not to describe success and failure but to somehow suggest that I'm not a good person or not a good guy and I think the American people will know better than that if they don't already."

Romney, referring to a New York Times report Thursday morning that detailed the plans of a conservative group to develop an ad that would link Obama to the controversial pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., said that he saw glimpses of character assassination in that ad, too.

“Having a campaign focused on character assassination is one of the things I find offensive among many others in the PAC description that came in the New York Times,” said Romney.

“If that's accurate, why, that's something I repudiate,” said Romney.

Romney also revealed that his own campaign plans to release a television ad in the next few days that will be positive.

“I certainly hope that you get a chance to see our first ad, that'll come up in I think a couple of days, it will be a positive ad on what I would do if I were president,” Romney said. “It'll be contrasting with the president's ad, which again is a character assassination ad."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McCain Adviser: Fred Davis ‘Requires Round-the-Clock Adult Supervision’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Fred Davis, the GOP media guru who pitched the attack ad campaign against President Obama focused on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, describes John McCain in the document as a “crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused…”

Davis was a media consultant for McCain’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008, having come up with the “celebrity” ad that generated some buzz, and an attack ad focused on Wright that McCain refused to green-light. But he retained his relationship with the Senator and came up with the media for McCain’s successful Senate re-election campaign in 2010, including the “complete the dang fence” ad.

Mark Salter, a close friend and top adviser to McCain, says of Davis, “Fred is a creative guy, but he requires round-the-clock adult supervision. If you take your eyes off him for a moment, you’re chasing demon sheep, witches and the yellow peril.”

Salter was referring to Davis ads for ultimately unsuccessful Republican candidates: one for GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina that depicted a primary opponent as a “demon sheep”; one for GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell in which she denies being a witch; and one for Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra that uses some unfortunate images.

Davis could not be reached for comment, but he has said, “If I picked what’s on my tombstone, it would be: ‘If you don’t notice it, why bother?’”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jeremiah Wright Ads Might Never Air

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New Republican ads featuring President Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright and his inflammatory comments may not be made after all.

The New York Times reported Thursday that a new “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney was planning to replay the indignation over Wright’s controversial sermons that were a highlight of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The news of Wright being resurrected in 2012 threw the Obama and Romney campaigns into spin mode early Thursday.

Romney’s campaign manager quickly said in a statement that the team doesn’t support “efforts on our side” to run ads of “character assassination.”

But the leaked proposal, authored by the GOP ad man Fred Davis and brokerage firm guru Joe Ricketts, has made things complicated now that it’s public. A person familiar with the super PAC tells ABC News that the leaked document was simply a proposal that was never acted on, and that no plan had been made to make any ads.

Davis told ABC News a month ago that he’d lined up the main donors for the new super PAC to target Obama, and that he expected the war chest to be in the millions. “The money’s already here,” he said.

Obama’s campaign manager countered by saying that Romney had “fallen short of the standard” set by John McCain in 2008, when he rejected the idea of a negative campaign.

Both campaigns, however, have used negative ads. Obama’s latest ads portray Romney as a corporate “vampire” who bankrupted a steel company while profiting off of it. And Romney survived the primary season partly by flooding the airwaves with commercials that portrayed his opponents negatively.

Democrats also are highlighting an interview Romney gave to Sean Hannity in February in which he mentioned Wright unprompted, in response to a clip of Obama saying “we are no longer a Christian nation.”

“I’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we must be a less Christian nation,” Romney said at the time.

The new Republican proposal to bring Wright back into the fray says, “The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way.” The proposal reportedly involves $10 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio