CHICAGO Barack Obama again distanced himself Thursday from a controversial sermon given at his Chicago church, saying he was “deeply disappointed” to hear a supporter’s sermon that mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama supporter the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist, also apologized Thursday for the sermon given last Sunday, during which he said Clinton cried in January before the New Hampshire primary because she felt "entitled" to the Democratic nomination and that a "black man is stealing my show."

In a video circulating on the Internet, Pfleger said the former first lady expected to win the nomination before Obama’s sudden popularity.

"She just always thought that, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white.’ … And then, out of nowhere, came ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama." And she said, ‘Oh damn, where did you come from? I’m white. I’m entitled. There’s a black man stealing my show,’" Pfleger said at Trinity United Church of Christ.

He then went on to parody Clinton, sobbing and wiping his face with a handkerchief.

"She wasn’t the only one crying," he said. "There was a whole lot of white people crying."

Obama won the Iowa caucuses, the opening contest of the nominating season, in January. Days later, Clinton’s eyes brimmed with tears and her voice broke as she talked with voters in New Hampshire on the eve of the primary, which she won.

In his statement, Obama said he was "deeply disappointed" by Pfleger’s comments.

"As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us," he said. "That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."

Clinton’s campaign denounced Pfleger’s sermon Thursday night.

"Divisive and hateful language like that is totally counterproductive in our efforts to bring our party together and have no place at the pulpit or in our politics," the campaign said in a statement. "We are disappointed that Senator Obama didn’t specifically reject Father’s Pfleger’s despicable comments about Senator Clinton, and assume he will do so."

Pfleger, the white pastor of the predominantly black Saint Sabina Roman Catholic Church on the city’s Southwest side, said Thursday he regretted his choice of words.

"These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life and message and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them," Pfleger said.

Pfleger’s statements were met with rounds of applause and in some cases standing ovations from the congregation.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago did not immediately return a telephone call after business hours Thursday.

In March, Pfleger invited Obama’s embattled former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, to speak at an event at Saint Sabina, embracing him in the church. The invitation came after Obama disavowed comments Wright made at the pulpit, calling them offensive.

Obama recently broke with Wright, who had been his longtime pastor, after video of his sermons blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks and his calls of "God damn America" became fixtures on the Internet and cable news networks and created a political problem for the candidate.

Pfleger is known in Chicago as a community activist and organizer. In June 2007 he was arrested with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a protest outside of a south suburban Chicago gun shop. The criminal trespass charges were later dropped.

The priest also has hosted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at St. Sabina, calling Farrakhan "a gift from God to a sick, sick world."


Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

comments – Add Yours