Democrat Obama “outraged” by former pastor

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, trying to quell a political firestorm that has roiled his presidential campaign, strongly denounced his former pastor on Tuesday and called his racially charged comments “appalling.”

Obama was forced to address the issue after Wright spoke on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, where he repeated earlier suggestions that the United States deserved some blame for the September 11 attacks and that the government had had a hand in spreading AIDS to blacks.

Wright had also questioned Obama’s honesty, saying he had been pandering to voters when he earlier denounced the pastor’s words. “If Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected,” Wright said.

Wright, asked on Monday about a speech in which he asserted the September 11 attacks were retaliation for U.S. foreign policy, said: “You cannot do terrorism on other people and not expect it to come back to you.”

Asked about another sermon in which he suggested the U.S. government created the AIDS virus to kill black people, Wright said: “Based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.”

Wright, who presided over Obama’s wedding and baptized his children, is now semi-retired from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.