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Did Wright betray Barack and Michelle? NBC's Vieira asks the Obamas on Today.


WASHINGTON-- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) tells the "Today Show" on Thursday he should have said "angry and frustrated instead of bitter" at that San Francisco fund-raiser that got him labeled an elitist.

And he said he should have said "rely" instead of "cling" to Gods and guns.

Michelle Obama says the still have to introduce themselves to people.

Obama has been running for president since February, 2007.

Transcript of the interview......

Now to a "Today" exclusive, an interview with Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, their first together in more than a year. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama's campaign has taken a hit because of his association with his controversial long-time pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Well, this week the senator publicly split with Wright, but was it too little, too late? I caught up with the Obamas in Indiana, and I started by asking the senator if he should have spoken out sooner.

BARACK OBAMA: I think the sequence of events was the right one, because this is somebody who had married Michelle and I, who had baptized our children. When those first snippets came out, I thought it was important to give him the benefit of the doubt, because if I had wanted to be politically expedient, I would have distanced myself and denounced him right away. Right? That would have been the easy thing to do

VIEIRA: But he was also truly damaging your campaign, and there's an election coming up in a few days.

OBAMA: Oh, I think that damage had been done a while back.

MICHELLE OBAMA: We hear time and time again that voters are tired of this. They don't want to hear about this division. They want to know, what are we going to do to move beyond these issues? And what made me so proud of Barack in this situation is that he is trying to move us as a nation beyond these conversations that divide us --

VIEIRA: Michelle, do you feel that the Reverend Wright betrayed your husband?

MS. OBAMA: You know, I think that Barack has spoken so clearly and eloquently about this.

MS. VIEIRA: But do you personally feel that the Reverend betrayed your husband?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I believe that we've got -- you know what I think, Meredith? We've got to move forward.

MS. VIEIRA: So when you hear somebody call your husband an elitist, or they called you unpatriotic at one point, when you hear them say about you, "Well, he doesn't have fire in his belly; he has a rugula in his belly," how do you respond to that?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, we wouldn't be sitting here if that was the perception of the majority of the American people. It's only when you become the front-runner that suddenly people are looking for potential chinks in the armor. Now --

MS. VIEIRA: But are you responsible for some of the things that you've said?

SEN. OBAMA: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt about it. I mean, I think that the -- well, there's one particular thing, which was the comments I made in San Francisco at the end of a long day that were very poorly phrased. I should have said angry and frustrated instead of bitter.

MS. VIEIRA: Instead of bitter.

SEN. OBAMA: I should have said people rely on their religious faith during these times of trouble --

MS. VIEIRA: Instead of "cling to."

SEN. OBAMA: -- as opposed to "cling to." I mean, the irony is that I think it is fair to say that both Michelle and I grew up in much less privileged circumstances than either of my two other potential opponents.

MS. VIEIRA: But they're not the ones being called elitist. Why do you think that is?

SEN. OBAMA: (Inaudible.) Well, and I think, look, let's be honest. You know, here I am, an African-American named Barack Obama who's running for president. I mean, that's a leap for folks.

MS. OBAMA: Part of, you know, what we've been doing is we have to introduce ourselves to people. People have to know all sides of us.

MS. VIEIRA: But part of the problem could be the connection -- I just want to -- this is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. It shows that more voters, 46 percent, don't identify with your background and values compared with 45 percent who said they did. But a month ago, 50 percent said they identified with your values versus 39 percent who said they didn't. So more people are saying they don't identify with your values. What has happened? What's --

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think it's pretty clear what's happened. I mean, we've had, what, two months now or a month and a half in which you've had the Reverend Wright controversy. You've had the issue of my comments in San Francisco that have been magnified pretty heavily. I mean, that's been a pretty full dose.

MS. VIEIRA: But politics is tough business, as you've found out.

SEN. OBAMA: Right.

MS. VIEIRA: And when you talk about the big states, you've also been able to put a lot of money into them and have not been as successful as I'm sure you would have hoped to be. There are people who might look at your recent record and are beginning to question, "Geez, why doesn't he close the deal"?

SEN. OBAMA: Let me dispel this whole big-state argument, which we hear constantly from the media. I won my home state of Illinois, as Senator Clinton did; she won New York. I also won Georgia, a big state. I won Missouri, a big state. I won Wisconsin, a swing state. I won Virginia, a big state. But what we've also done is we've expanded the map.

MS. VIEIRA: If, at the end of the day, you have more pledged delegates but the super-delegates decide Hillary Clinton is doing better when she goes up against McCain in these polls than you are doing, or however they make that decision, can you live with that?

SEN. OBAMA: We always knew this was an improbable journey when we started off. And, you know, I think, because of our success, people have forgotten that. People discount what we've accomplished and then focus on, "Well, you've lost a couple of states.

" But the truth is that we always knew this was hard. And the reason is because we're trying to do something new.

MS. VIEIRA: Are there moments when you look back and go, "Gee, I wish I could turn the clock back?"

MS. OBAMA: I was always the one, when he was talking about entering politics, who'd say, "Please, no; do something else. There's just such an easier way to make a living." So, yeah, there's still a level of cynicism that's there. But the truth is that, you know, I just know how special he is. And I don't want to sound like the cheering wife.

SEN. OBAMA: That's okay. You can cheer.

MS. OBAMA: It's okay. I know. The fundamental changes that he has made in just 15 months in the way people see themselves, the way people see their futures, the way young people are looking at their possibilities, the way we're talking about politics, even though we slip sometimes and we still get pulled down into the old ways of playing the political game -- changes have happened. And it makes every challenge, every frustration, worth it.

MS. VIEIRA: So you never sit there and get upset about these --

MS. OBAMA: Never. I never get upset, Meredith.

MS. VIEIRA: (Laughs.) No, I just -- I'm trying to --

SEN. OBAMA: She gets a little upset.

MS. VIEIRA: -- -- take off the political hat.

MS. OBAMA: I'm cool and calm.

SEN. OBAMA: She just -- she stops reading the newspapers during certain stands of time.

MS. OBAMA: I take the paper and I ball it up and I throw it in the corner.

MS. OBAMA: You know, of course there are frustrations. You know, this is --

SEN. OBAMA: She gets protective of me --

MS. OBAMA: I do.

SEN. OBAMA: -- which is --

MS. OBAMA: I love my husband. You know, you don't want anybody talking poorly about the people that you love. And quite frankly, I think he's handled this stuff. I mean, this -- you know, I'm so proud of how he has maintained his dignity, his cool, his honor.


MS. OBAMA: I know you're trying to cut me off when I'm, you know, talking nicely about you.

SEN. OBAMA: Yeah, it gets embarrassing.

MS. OBAMA: Yeah.

SEN. OBAMA: But --

MS. OBAMA: But I am proud of him.

SEN. OBAMA: I know. I appreciate that. I do. And I actually -- I'm proud of our campaign.


Give me a break! This was definitely a dog and pony show. They both play so well, in to each other, to the point of vomit! Michelle never did answer question regarding Rev. Wright, makes one wonder what the relationship was with this man. All this disowning was for political reasons, and if it was, the Reverend is going to haunt them down. I hear he is scheduled in Pennsylvania to speak in May and June. Let the game begin!

So==what were the numbers of victory for Hillary in NY and Barack in Il? Hillary got 1/3 in Il--what did Barack get in NY?

They handled it well.
I don't think folks will be so nice when it's just Obama vs. McCain (I think that's a smart idea---nothing against Obama, but...)
However, what still bugs me, is the media is really double-standarding (sorry) Hillary--they're so much MEANER to her. If Hillary had cut Viera off like that--they'd be saying she was "shrill" and "ill-tempered," bla bla.

Hillary took more counties in IL than Barack in NY. He only got 1 county -- where Cornell is. Indeed.

Just annoying these two. Such thin skin.


I don't know if there's a question to be written to account for this, but I believe Michelle Obama's rude behavior (dressed like a trollop in a tight pink thing that revealed push up bra style cleaveage) is really going to hurt their popularity.
What SHOULD hurt their popularity was 'princess' Caroline Kennedy's rude dismissal of Susan Malveaux after she'd actually GIVEN UP getting Michelle Obama to talk about the Rev. Wright situation.
Worse still was Michelle practically necking with Obama after Michelle tore into Meredith Viera.
This is shockingly rude behavior to the news media---and the Obamas have NOT been media friendly at all.
Makes me doubt the veracity of what Obama's written about his earlier years in those books. (A pre-emptive strike?)
Makes me wonder how it is the Obamas REALLY met.

I am sorry--HOW can the media let the Obamas get away with dodging questions like that?
Michelle is so--FAKE! Her 'man' has "...maintained his dignity, his cool, his honor...."
Must be that 2005 Cheney energy bill Hawaii Barry voted for was very well appreciated. As was Barry's watering down of a nuke release reg for Exelon (which gave him 300 G).
Stand up and answer some questions, sir.

Shame. Shame. Why don't you folks just say that you are not ready for an African American. You come up with all kind of excuses to not support them. Michelle clothes, Obama not throwing Wright under the bus, the bitter statement. Just go right ahead and put Hillary or McCain in office. Stop making excuses and say how you really feel. You don't won't them in the White HOuse. This is a shame. The comments that Rush L makes or Pat B. some of them are so shameful and outrageous. I guess your arguement is that they are not running for office, but they are racist. It is clear that the good Old U.S is not ready for unity, they want things to remain the same. I pray to God that he wins the nomination for president. It is in God's hand---if it is God's will the Obama's will make it to the White House --- it give me great joy to know that there is NOTHING that you haters will be able to do. A Change Will Come.

Barack is being advised to avoid any more debates by the DNC and his own campaign managers. The questions are starting to get tougher and his weaknesses are starting to show. It has the Dems scared about damage for the general election. What a truly transparent Democratic process we have in our country! Not!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 1, 2008 3:27 PM.

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