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Wright On

Barack Obama was on "Meet the Press" for the full hour 5/4. The interview was conducted in Indianapolis, IN.

Sunday Snapshot! 5/4/08


Obama, asked why Rev. Wright re-emerged: "You know, you'd have to ask him. I think that it's possible, as a consequence of him retiring, that having the spotlight was something attractive to him. ... Obviously, he felt that he had been attacked, and that's an understandable human emotion."

Obama, on critics saying he only acted when Wright became politically uncomfortable for him: "Oh, I think it, back several weeks ago, it was already pretty politically comfortable, you know, when his statements were being looped on cable stations 24 hours a day for about five straight days. That was already politically uncomfortable, but, you know, I did what I thought was right, which was to denounce the words, not denounce the man. ... What really changed was a sense that he was going to double down on the statements that he had made before."

Obama, asked why he didn't separate from Wright after disinviting him to deliver the public invocation at his WH candidacy announcement: "Well, my commitment, as I said, is to the church, not to a pastor. And I think that's shared by millions of people who are going to church this morning. ... Reverend Wright was going to be retiring in a year, and I thought it was important for me to maintain my commitment to that church."


Obama, asked if he will seek Wright's counsel if elected POTUS: "Absolutely not. Now, I think it's important to keep in mind that I never sought his counsel when it came to politics."

Obama, asked why he is against giving taxpayers in IN and NC a relief from federal gasoline tax this summer: "This defines, I think, the difference between myself and Senator Clinton. This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It is a political response to a serious problem that we have neglected for decades. ... You're looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28. That's assuming that the oil companies don't step in and raise prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced. And, by the way, I have some experience on this because in Illinois we tried this when I was in the state legislature, and that's exactly what happened. The oil companies, the retailers were the ones who ended up benefiting."

Russert: "You voted for it, too. ... When gas was only $2 a gallon."

Obama: "And that's my point. I voted for it, and then six months later we took a look, and consumers had not benefited at all, but we had lost revenue."


Russert: "So you learned from a wrong vote."

Obama: "Yeah, I learned from a mistake. ... If Senator Clinton or John McCain had stood up in previous years for increases in fuel efficiency standards, in getting serious about an energy policy that is freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, then we would not be in this same situation in the first place. And I don't want, 20 years from now, to have a bunch of politicians proposing a suspension of the gas tax holiday when gas is $8 or $10 a gallon because we failed to act now. Now is the time for us to act, and I think the people of Indiana and North Carolina understand that."

Obama, on Hillary Clinton's "obliterate" Iran comment: "Well, it's not the language that we need right now, and I think it's language that's reflective of George Bush. We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber-rattling and tough talk, and, in the meantime, we make a series of strategic decisions that actually strengthen Iran. ... The irony is, of course, Senator Clinton, during the course of this campaign, has at times said, 'We shouldn't speculate about Iran.' You know, 'We've got to be cautious when we're running for president.' She scolded me on a couple of occasions about this issue, and yet, a few days before an election, she's willing to use that language."

Russert: "You said, 'Indiana may end up being the tiebreaker.' Right? That's where we are. So if Hillary Clinton wins here, she wins? ... She wins the nomination?"

Obama: "No. ... This was in the context of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, the three largest states that are remaining. I said clearly Senator Clinton was favored in Pennsylvania, I was slightly favored in North Carolina, Indiana was one that was a toss-up. So, between those three states, that would be the one that was hardest to gauge in terms of where the voters might go. But we've got more contests remaining, and I'm confident that Senator Clinton's going to stay in until the very end, and then we're going to have a decision about who's going to be the nominee."

Obama, asked if the race is over if he wins IN and NC: "Well, I don't think the race is over until Senator Clinton decides that she's getting out or until all the primaries and caucuses have taken place" (NBC, 5/4).


In a special edition of "This Week" from Indianapolis, IN, Hillary Clinton took questions from ABC's George Stephanopoulos and voters in studio in IN and others via satellite from NC.

Clinton, on Barack Obama saying her gas tax proposal, like John McCain's proposal, is pandering: "Well, number one, my proposal is very different from Senator McCain. Senator McCain has said take off the gas tax, don't pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt. That is not what I've proposed. What I've proposed is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers and drivers this summer. Now, why am I proposing this? Well, number one, I am absolutely convinced that these record profits of the oil companies are a result of a number of factors beyond supply and demand. I think there has been market manipulation. ... This gas tax issue to me is very real, because I am meeting people across Indiana and North Carolina who drive for a living, who commute long distances, who would save money if the oil companies paid this $8 billion this summer, instead of it coming out of the pockets of consumers."

Clinton, asked to name a single credible economist who supports her plan for a gas tax suspension: "I think we've been for the last seven years seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven't worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans."

Stephanopoulos: "But can you name an economist who thinks this makes sense?"

Clinton: "I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."

Stephanopoulos: "There is still some suspicion of you, though, on free trade, in part because President Clinton continues to advocate free trade. He's taken, since leaving the White House, more than $1 million in speaking fees from interests representing China and others. And also contributions to the library. Because of that, why shouldn't his library release all the contributors so people can decide whether there is a conflict?"

Clinton: "Well, first, let me say that I don't know any married couple that agrees on everything, and we have a disagreement on some of our positions. ... And I am 100 percent in agreement -- that if I am so fortunate as to be elected president, all of that will be released."

Stephanopoulos: "But you're saying now it will not come out during the campaign."

Clinton: "No."

Clinton, on experts saying her "obliterate" Iran comment "undermines the kind of people we want to be encouraging in Iran": "Well, the experts I consult with don't say that. ... Here's what we're trying to convey. No. 1, we have to do everything possible to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. ... No. 2, because of this split leadership and because of discontent among the people, we want to create some upward pressure that sends a very clear signal to the Supreme Leader and to Ahmadinejad and others, that going forward on nuclear weapons is not a free choice for Iran."

Clinton, asked if the Rev. Wright controversy is relevant to Obama and his policy: "We should definitely move on. And we should move on because there's so many important issues facing our country that we have to attend to."

Clinton, on Rush Limbaugh asking GOPers to come out and vote for her in order to divide the party: "He's always had a crush on me."

Clinton, on Obama saying her "obliterate" language is reflective of Pres. Bush: "Well, the question originally, as some may remember, was what would we do if Iran got a nuclear weapon and attacked Israel. And I think we have to be very clear about what we would do. I don't think it's time to equivocate about what we would do. They have to know that they would face massive retaliation. That is the only way to rein them in."

Stephanopoulos: "So no regrets?"

Clinton: "No, why would I have any regrets? I'm asked a question about what I would do if Iran attacked our ally, a country that many of us have a great deal of, you know, connection with and feeling for all kinds of reasons. nd, yes, we would have massive retaliation against Iran" (ABC, 5/4).


Camp surrogates continue the TV rounds.

Obama supporter Bill Richardson and Clinton supporter/NC Gov. Mike Easley (D) were on "Late Edition" together.

Richardson, on NC: "Senator Obama has continued to move forward. He's won Guam, it's now 31 states to 15 in caucuses. And I know Governor Easley is very popular in his state. I'm sure that's what's bringing more votes to Senator Clinton. But I believe that in North Carolina that Senator Obama will prevail."

Easley: "Well, we're not going to win White House by winning Guam. We know that. And it's not by popularity that is doing anything. I can tell you, I probably hurt her more than I help her, Bill, but I appreciate you offering that (CNN, 5/4).

Obama supporter/ex-Gov./Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder and Clinton supporter/Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) appeared together on "Face the Nation."

Bayh: "Senator Obama has called the gas tax moratorium phony. He voted for it three times in the Illinois state legislature. ... Three times. ... He understood then what middle America and middle-class families know now, and that is that if the choice is between $10 billion more for the big oil companies or money in their pockets, more money in their pockets during these tight times, that's the right thing to do. And that's what Hillary Clinton wants to do."

Wilder: "Obama voted for this gimmick, this gas tax. Yes, when he was in the Indiana (sic) state legislature. And he is the first to admit that he learned from this mistake because it was wrong. That's why he knows that this is a gimmick that can't work" (CBS, 5/4).

Clinton chair Terry McAuliffe and Obama supporter/superdelegate/ex-DNC Chair Joe Andrew appeared together on "Fox News Sunday."

Andrew, asked if the Clinton camp has tried to smear him: "The fact of the matter is that there are thousands of e-mails, thousands of telephone calls, fortunately, most of them that are positive. And there's a lot of people who like to think of themselves as surrogates for these campaigns that may well not be. Look, I've been questioned whether I'm a Hoosier. I've been questioned whether I'm an American simply for trying to state my opinion as well."

McAuliffe, asked why so many people who know and have worked with the Clintons are supporting Obama: "Now, in fairness,I could give you a list of thousands upon thousands of people who worked in the Clinton administration who are out there every single day strongly supporting Hillary Clinton. You're never going to get 100 percent of everybody. ... So you don't get everybody, but I feel very comfortable about where we are" (5/4).


House Maj. Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) was also on "Face the Nation."

Clyburn, asked if Obama has done enough to separate himself from Rev. Wright: "I don't see how he can do much more. I did hear earlier this morning that he is emphasizing that he joined the church. And there's a big difference between the church and the pastor. ... I think that he's doing well now to let people know that he is identified with the church. They now have a new pastor. Reverend Wright is the ex-pastor. And so that, I think, is serving him very, very well."

CBS' Schieffer: "What do you think will happen to those black voters? Are they going to turn out for Hillary Rodham Clinton? Let's say she does get the nomination. What will she have to do to get a large African-American turnout? Will she have to, for example, put Senator Obama on the ticket with her or are there other things she can do?"

Clyburn: "Oh, I don't think so. I don't think it's all on Senator Clinton's plate if she were to get the nomination. I think the most important person in this process going forward will not be the person who is number one but the person who is number two. The person who finishes second in this will be very, very important for all of our constituents to come together" ("Face the Nation," CBS, 5/4).


And DNC Chair Howard Dean was on "Fox News Sunday."

Dean, on GOP ads linking Obama and Wright to the local Dem candidates: "For the last 30 years, the Republican book is to race bait and to use hate and divisiveness. In 2006, the American people said no to that, and I think they're going to say no to that in 2008."

Chris Wallace: "Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting, and hate and divisive?"

Dean: "Yeah, I am suggesting that kind of stuff. ... When you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting, and that's exactly what it is, just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago. ... America is more important than the Republican Party, and that's the lesson that the voters are about to teach the Republicans."

Wallace: "But, Governor, I've got to tell you, when I interviewed Barack Obama last week, he said he thought that the Reverend Wright issue was a legitimate political issue -- his words."

Dean: "Well, he can say whatever he wants. I'm going to say whatever I want. I'm not getting into Reverend Wright. He's caused enough trouble for our country over the last several weeks."

Wallace: "Not to say that we've been counting, but it has been almost 19 months since you've appeared here or on any Fox program. How do you explain the fact that in less than a week -- and we're very happy to have you -- that Governor Dean and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have all shown up on Fox?"

Dean: "Well, first of all, your audience is important to us. A lot of your audience are working-class Democrats, the kind of people who will vote either way, and we'd like them to vote Democrat. And second of all, you gave us a fair opportunity to talk about Senator McCain's record" (5/4).


The "Fox News Sunday" roundtable discussed WH '08.

Brit Hume, on Dems appearing on Fox: "Politics is about addition, not subtraction. It was never going to be a good idea for very long for any of these candidates to turn their back on the largest cable audience in television. ... We've got the viewers. They're here. No surprise" (5/4).

The "Late Edition" roundtable discussed WH '08.

CNN's Bash: "That's why this is so fascinating, this debate over the gas tax holiday, because it really does illustrate the kind of voters that each is trying to go after and really has had success with. On the one hand, you have Hillary Clinton, who has been ... successfully going after the so-called lunch-bucket Democrats, more of the blue-collar voters. And you have Barack Obama going after the more traditionally, maybe, from his perspective, maybe some of the more sophisticated, some of the wealthier Democrats. And that fits -- this whole debate over the gas tax really does illustrate and exemplify the two different approaches, in terms of the Democrats they're going after" (5/4).

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