PLAINFIELD, IND.—Referring to the heated tone of the Democratic presidential race—and rejecting again inflammatory rhetoric of his pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright while invoking the name of Bobby Kennedy, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Saturday that the “forces of division” have started to raise their “ugly heads” again.
Speaking in a gym at Plainfield High School, making his first visit to Indiana of his presidential campaign in advance of the May primary here, Obama said “everybody, you know, senses there has been this shift.”
This comes as Obama is trying to distance himself from Wright, whose controversial sermons—on videotape—threaten Obama’s presidential quest. Obama talked about Wright in his stump speech as a man of fiery rhetoric—but one who talked to him about Jesus.” Obama's reference to Kennedy is about a speech he made in this state after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“But I noticed over the last several weeks that the forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again. And I’m not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody, you know, senses that there's been this shift. You know, that you've been seeing in the reporting. You’ve been seeing some of the commentaries of supporters on all sides,” Obama said.
“Most recently, you heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships, but clearly had -- but if all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked. And it just reminds me that we've got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding. But what I continue to believe in is that this country wants to move beyond these kinds of divisions. That this country wants something different.
“I just want to say to everybody here that as somebody who was born into a diverse family, as somebody who has little pieces of America all in me, I will not allow us to lose this moment, where we cannot forget about our past and not ignore the very real forces of racial inequality and gender inequality and the other things that divide us. I don't want us to forget them.
“We have to acknowledge them and lift them up and when people say things like my former pastor said, you know, you have to speak out forcefully against them. But what you also have to do is remember what Bobby Kennedy said. That it is within our power to join together to truly make a United States of America. And that we have to do not just so that our children live in a more peaceful country and a more peaceful world, but that is the only way that we are going to deliver on the big issues that we're facing in this country.
"We can't solve health care divided. We cannot create an economy that works for everybody divided. We can't fight terrorism divided. We can't care for our veterans divided. We have to come together. That’s what this campaign is about. That’s why you are here. That’s why we're going to win this election. That’s how we're going to change the country.”