Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan recently revealed for the first time the details of a private meeting he had at his Chicago home with Barack Obama just before the then-U.S. Senator announced his run for president.
Speaking to at the Nation of Islam’s mosque in Chicago late last month, the fiery minister said that he gave Obama financial support to help him win pubic office. He also acknowledged that he has withheld details of his relationship with Obama for fear of political consequences for the former community organizer.
“We supported him when he was a community organizer,” said Farrakhan. “We backed him with money and with the help of the [Fruit of Islam] to get him elected.”
Neither Farrakhan nor Obama have discussed details of their relationship in Chicago, where Obama was elected state senator in 1996. During the 2008 presidential election, Obama’s critics seized on connections between his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Farrakhan, who has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League and other groups because of anti-Semitic statements.
Whether Farrakhan and Obama ever met was an open question during the 2008 election. Hillary Clinton pressed Obama on the relationship during a primary debate. Obama distanced himself from Farrakhan and denounced his anti-Semitism. One of Farrakhan’s top lieutenants did say in 2008 that the cleric and Obama were “close.”
“This part of the story I will leave for another time, but he visited me,” Farrakhan, 83, told his flock of Obama.
“I have a picture of myself and Barack together,” he continued. “You never saw it, because I would never put it out to give his enemies what they were looking for to hurt him.”
Farrakhan said that Obama told him during their meeting that he owed his early political success to Chicago’s black voters. But it was Illinois’ heavily white down-state population that helped him win his national Senate seat.
“But he told me straight up: ‘Farrakhan, the Black vote in Chicago made me win Chicago, but it was the down state vote that made me a U.S. senator. And I will never do anything that will cause me to lose the down state vote,'” Farrkhan said.
Farrakhan said that he understood and accepted Obama’s political maneuvering.
“And I said to him, ‘My brother, your reality is not mine. And we need you where you are, so I will never ask you to do anything that will cause you to lose the downstate vote’ — and I never have,” said Farrakhan.
“He was the bigger picture.”