An ally of then-Senator Barack Obama offered Rev. Jeremiah Wright $150,000 to keep his mouth shut until after the 2008 election, according to excerpts released today from the upcoming book “The Amateur” by Edward Klein.
Wright, Obama’s former Chicago pastor, had become a significant political liability in the 2008 presidential campaign because of his anti-American rhetoric. Just months before the election, networks were poring over months of Wright’s sermons, which suggested that the United States deserved the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Wright has also encouraged blacks to sing “God Damn America” instead of “God Bless America.”
“After the media went ballistic on me, I received an e-mail offering me money not to preach at all until the November presidential election,” Wright told Klein, according to the New York Post, which obtained the excerpts.
That’s when Obama himself got involved, Wright said, and made a personal plea to keep Wright out of the spotlight.
“Barack said he wanted to meet me in secret, in a secure place. And I said, ‘You’re used to coming to my home, you’ve been here countless times, so what’s wrong with coming to my home?’ So we met in the living room of the parsonage of Trinity United Church of Christ, at South Pleasant Avenue right off 95th Street, just Barack and me. I don’t know if he had a wire on him. His security was outside somewhere.”
Wright added that Obama seemed more concern about his political circumstances than Wright’s personal well-being.
“And one of the first things Barack said was, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election.’ He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, ‘I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.’ … I said, ‘I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?’ And he said, ‘Well, I wish you wouldn’t speak in public. The press is gonna eat you alive.’”
According to Wright, he also received a short lecture from Obama on the necessity of sometimes stretching the truth.
“Barack said, ‘I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is?’ And I said, ‘No, what’s my problem?’ And he said, ‘You have to tell the truth.’ I said, ‘That’s a good problem to have. That’s a good problem for all preachers to have. That’s why I could never be a politician.’”
Klein’s book will be released May 15.