A reporter from the Daily-Press of Newport News, Virginia, caught up with President Obama's former mentor and pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, story this week at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference.
Asked if he's spoken to his former parishioner since he become President, Wright told David Squires, "them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office."
In his new book Renegade: The Making of a President, erstwhile Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe writes about a secret meeting then-candidate Obama had with Rev. Wright during that period in which the fiery minister threatened to derail his then-parishioner's path to the Democratic presidential nomination.
"It was time to talk directly to Wright," Wolffe writes. "Obama’s friends at Trinity tried to talk their pastor out of his comeback tour. But by now the church was deeply divided between Obama supporters and Wright supporters, and the conversation was going nowhere. So the candidate decided to go see Wright himself in secret, in Chicago. First came the dance over where to meet: one intermediary suggested a neutral location, but Obama said he was happy to go wherever Wright wanted. They ended up talking at Wright’s home, and Obama tried to adopt the tone of a concerned friend giving advice. He did not want to tell his former pastor what to do, but he did want to nudge him in the right direction by making him aware of what was about to happen. Wright wasn’t heading for vindication; he was heading for vilification.
“'Look, you’re a pastor, you have your own role to play,' Obama said. 'But I can tell you how politics in the cable and blog age works. Here’s what you need to anticipate: that it’s going to be a media circus. But obviously, you need to do what you need to do.'
"Wright felt embattled and wanted to tell his side of the story to the rest of the world. He thanked Obama for his opinion, but looked and sounded like the aggrieved party.
"After Wright’s disastrous appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, and Obama’s swift decision to sever all ties with his former pastor, the campaign’s polling numbers showed a steep decline in Indiana.
"On the night before Indiana’s primary, Obama’s senior aides were convinced they were headed for outright defeat. 'How could someone I knew, someone I trusted, do this to me?' Obama said.
"Obama and his aides were proved wrong. They won North Carolina by fifteen points, lost Indiana by just one point, and beat Reverend Wright once and for all."