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Obama Responds to Report on Jackson Comments

By Glenn Kessler
The Obama campaign responded quickly today to an instant flap over purported comments that the Rev. Jesse Jackson made to the New York Post over Sen. Barack Obama's foreign policy plans. The McCain campaign seized on the remarks to suggest Obama would not be a strong supporter of Israel if he is elected president, while Jackson issued a statement saying his comments had been selectively reported and distorted.

Jackson is no friend of Obama's -- earlier this year he said he would like to castrate him -- but Jackson is a prominent Democrat and his reported comments to the World Policy Forum in Evian, France, and in a subsequent interview at the forum with Post columnist Amer Taheri would give heartburn to any presidential candidate.

Among the most damning quotes: that although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, the "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end once Obama became president.

Throughout the campaign, Obama has struggled against the perception among some Jews that he would not be a strong supporter of Israel, so the McCain campaign saw Jackson's remarks, which have been widely covered in the Israeli press, as a potential opening. Randy Scheunemann, McCain's senior foreign policy adviser, said in a statement: "Barack Obama claims to be a strong supporter of Israel but his supporters -- here and abroad -- know better."

In a statement, Obama campaign national security spokesperson Wendy Morigi distanced Obama from Jackson and said Obama had an "unshakable commitment to Israel's security."

"Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Obama campaign and is therefore in no position to interpret or share Barack Obama's views on Israel and foreign policy. As he has made clear throughout his career and throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and he is advised by people like Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Senator Joe Biden who share that commitment," Morigi said.

"As President, he will ensure that Israel can defend itself from every threat it faces, stand with Israel in its quest for a secure peace with its neighbors, and use all elements of American power to end Iran's illicit nuclear program. No false charges can change Barack Obama's unshakable commitment to Israel's security."

Jackson himself denounced Taheri, according to the Associated Press, for "selectively imposing his own point of view and distorting mine," issuing a statement saying Taheri was trying to "to incite fear and division."

Jackson added that he "has never had a conversation with Sen. Obama about Israel or the Middle East."

Jackson's son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., has repeatedly been at odds with his famous father over the congressman's strong support for Obama, his home state senator, and today again had to issue a statement in response to his father's reported remarks.

"I know that under a Barack Obama presidency, the United States of America's relationship with Israel will remain rock-solid, strong and unshakable. Barack Obama is committed to maintaining and strengthening the special bond between our two countries, born of our shared values as well as our common interests," the younger Jackson said in a statement.

"As the vice-chair of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I've traveled to Israel and seen firsthand the threats to its security. I'm eager to work with the new administration and the new Congress to ensure that Israel remains strong, secure and free."

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 15, 2008; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , John McCain  
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Next: McCain's Tough Task as 18 Months of Debates End Tonight


I just read that Jesse Jackson denied saying this. The reporter who reported this Amir Taheri, has a bad reputation of making things up.... let's make sure Jackson said what he said

Posted by: mbintampa | October 15, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

So Jesse Jackson is still trying to throw Obama under the bus. What else is new? He's an idiot who doesn't have a clue about Barack Obama's policies. Enough said.

Posted by: DianeW18 | October 15, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for Barack, Jackson is jealous of his achievements in such a short time while Jackson has worked all his life to get treated like MLK, Jr. and now Obama has stolen his place under the sun! How dare Jackson react this way after all our struggles and traveling and meetings that took us all over the South to fight for equality for us all! Now that some of our work for the future is actually coming to fruition based on Barack's position in the election polls, we have Jackson, an old, irrelevant, green eyed monster, continually rearing his ugly headed comments to help "defeat" our 50 years of civil rights work, just because of his ego! Jesse, get a grip dude! You have no right to speak for everyone any longer because you lost that privilege when you showed exactly who and what you are by making those on air comments about Obama a while back. If I had known that you would turn out this way, I would have never voted for you in 1984! You sound as though you have sold your soul to the Republicans, that is not too far fetched seeing as though you have been seen as a contributor to the demise of MLK and were not exactly by his side as you claim when he was shot a fact that should have been made public long ago. And as a former activist friend of the late Ann Braden, you know there are lots of people like me who know lots of truths from the 1960's brother!

Posted by: plwood01 | October 15, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

roland martin for president!!!!


Posted by: USA3 | October 15, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

an old tax collector called mathas'
sat in his lantern light,
and he foresaw his heart
beat fleeting, and his
future passed,
and he sought change
from outside of himself...
not knowing, change comes
from within.

Posted by: USA3 | October 15, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

it is politically correct to call
a jew a jew, and sarah palin
a b*tch,
but do not touch the
obama's black supremist views?
they are the rev. wrights adherents
who believe blacks will erase
the White Oppessors from
the face of the earth,


Posted by: USA3 | October 15, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse


Obama needs to be aggressive tonight and NOT just sit on his "lead" -- because there may be no lead at all by Election Day.

Today's Politico lead story indicates that the Rev. Wright issue will be resurrected in McCain TV advertising... alongside of Rezko, Ayers and ACORN.

If McCain plays "guilt by association," Obama should bring up the Alaska Independence Party; Todd Palin's membership in a group that advocates seccession from the U.S.; its founder's anti-American statements; and ask the question:

"Is your running mate Sarah Palin palling around with someone who pals around with enemies of the state?

If Obama lays back, he could see his lead diminish as the "fear factor" takes hold -- as it always seems to do in the waning days of recent presidential campaigns.


What if McCain's real strategy is aimed NOT at voters, but at the apparachik?


Posted by: scrivener50 | October 15, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

See a McCain rally go bad, Booing and People leaving. A song Hank Williams sang was vulgar and offended some. Heres the clip

Who won the Best Palin Impersonator Contest? Not Tina Fey. See Clip.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 15, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I smell Rove also.
Another lowdown, snaky move by a losing party.

Posted by: shorty1 | October 15, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

USA 3 writes:

"if an old jew will vote for a half breed, raised in indonesia, muslim schools, wife a black supremist, pastor a jew hater,
biggest early campaign financing from
a convicted felon.
then it is the end of times..."

So it's the end of times is it ?

As long as you're peering in to that crystal ball of yours, how about a call on this year's world series winner ?

Perhaps it's the beginning of a new time, where people are measured based on the content of their character, and not their racial makeup.

And the beginning of the end of time for nincompoops and bigots who spew nonsense and hate.

Posted by: mathas | October 15, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

USA3, what is a black "supremist"?
You sound like a hater to me....

Posted by: BFranco | October 15, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It isn't going to work for the world for any one country to be the only one that counts at the table of nations. I don't know how any one nation can be the only chosen one and anybody who thinks asking Israel to be a member of the community of nations is antisemitic has a very narcissistic (selfish) point of view. Jesse Jackson seems to lost his marbles pretty much and embarrassed his own family with his commentary. Maybe it's a generational thing.

Posted by: GaiasChild | October 15, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

if an old jew will vote for a half breed, raised in indonesia, muslim schools, wife a black supremist, pastor a jew hater,
biggest early campaign financing from
a convicted felon.
then it is the end of times...


Posted by: USA3 | October 15, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

..this is the sam Jesse Jackson who wanted his testicles in a box.....


Posted by: AlexP1 | October 15, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It's refreshing to hear the 'naked' truth from someone who is close to the candidate versus hearing the manufactured 'spin' that is geared to getting the Jewish vote.

It should be obvious to all that Obama will be less of a 'friend' to Israel than he will be to the Palestinians.

He just has to get into office first to prove it!

Posted by: gdgarant | October 15, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Poor McCain. At 72, last shot at the WH, and nothing seems to work for him. Not the gamble on Palin, not the "suspension" of his campaign, not Ayers, and now he is dragging out Jackson.

I can offer a better suggestion to him and that may solve his problem. He should blame Obama for his failed gamble on Palin. He could say he followed Obama's suggestion to pick Palin. Obama made me do it. It has some perverted charm in it -calling Obama the devil without having to say so explicitly.

Posted by: steviana | October 15, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

McCain's DIRTY LITTLE SECRET in Arizona.

Watch the video:

Posted by: Laurie777 | October 15, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

The question we need to ask ourself first: where is Sentor McCain going with this argument. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is not an adviser to the Sentor Obama or to his campaign and as such why should we care about Rev. Jackson's comment. Why is McCain worried about Israel? What is Sentor McCain doing to solve the problem here at home. If he is interested about the security of Israel, he should running for an elected office in Israel ane not in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Posted by: mn777 | October 15, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Jesse Jackson knows Barack Obama better than almost anyone in politics in Chicago.

His son, Jesse Jackson Jr, is a senior Obama advisor."

So, the fact that he's the father of an advisor makes his opinion more important, than, say the advisor? I'll have to ask my dad sometime if he'd care to do my job for me.

"Jesse Sr. was involved in every run that Barack has had for political office."

Care to cite one example? His involvement in this campaign has apparently been to embarrass Obama on a regular basis.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 15, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Hoke writes:

"Jesse Jackson knows Barack Obama better than almost anyone in politics in Chicago.
His son, Jesse Jackson Jr, is a senior Obama advisor. Jesse Jackson Sr's office is two blocks from Obama's home.Jesse Sr. was involved in every run that Barack has had for political office.I would have to say that Jesse Jackson Sr. would know what Obama's thinking entails."

This is the same logic that Palin employs. I can see Russsia from Alaska, therefore I'm a foreign policy expert.

Physical proximity does not imply intimacy or knowledge of. And didn't Bill Clinton pull the Jesse Jackson card on Obama during the primary....we all remember how that turned out for Hillary.

The personal attacks, the guilt by association, the open ended who is the real Obama's not working.

And it's late in the game.

The 72 year old AZ Senator, while once an honorable man, has squandered much of his hard earned reputation. He's old, out of ideas and out of gas. We'll give him a merciful political sendoff on November 4th.

Posted by: mathas | October 15, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Jackson is almost as erratic as McCain

Jesse Jackson is projecting. I burned himself and his political carreer with his "Heimi Town" comment a long time ago, and has never been credible since.

still no as damaging as "BOMB,BOMB Iran"

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 15, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Barack Obama claims to be a strong supporter of Israel but his supporters -- here and abroad -- know better."

Only someone involved with the McCain campaign or a right wing nut would think that Jesse Jackson is an Obama supporter!

I would have thought the "I'd like to cut his..." line would have shown that to everyone.

Posted by: lightgrw | October 15, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Jesse Jackson knows Barack Obama better than almost anyone in politics in Chicago.

His son, Jesse Jackson Jr, is a senior Obama advisor.

Jesse Jackson Sr's office is two blocks from Obama's home.

Jesse Sr. was involved in every run that Barack has had for political office.

I would have to say that Jesse Jackson Sr. would know what Obama's thinking entails.

But out of the blue when Jesse Sr. states something that might stand in the way of Barack he becomes one of those individuals that Obama's states "He is just someone from the neighborhood that I reside in and that is not the (fill in the blank) that I know". That is what Barack has stated about ACORN, Ayers, Dohrn, Reverend Wright, Father Pfleger and Tony Rezko.

Posted by: mwhoke | October 15, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: need4trth | October 15, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

It’s important to disassociate Obama from the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Bill Clinton.

One of the great benefits of an Obama presidency will be a true generational shift away from the 60s era political leaders of the Jackson/Clinton ilk (which explains their passive-aggressive antipathy). Whether or not Obama solves America’s race problem (he won’t and can’t), he will represent a step forward and away from a race conscious past. Post-racial is the right word.

And while it’s likely that marginalized groups will always find comfort in the likes of Jesse Jackass, we can keep hope alive that his future, and the future of others like him who racketeer in victimhood, will be diminished come November 4.

Posted by: nahnopenotquite | October 15, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice to actually see something out of the McCain campaign that actually spoke to McCain's policies and ideas, instead of constantly attacking Obama with dubious and ludicrous claims.

Can you imagine how deep a hole McCain would be in if we started focusing on Sarah and Todd Palin's association with the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party? Or brought up McCain's association with G. Gordon Liddy??

Senator Obama, however, has chosen to run a campaign based upon issue and policy. He even went to the trouble to pick a Vice Presidential candidate who is actually qualified to serve!

McCain deserves all the criticism he has been getting.

Nobody has said it better than Keith Olbermann.

If you missed his 'special comment' on McCain:

Posted by: scootmandubious | October 15, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Jackson prefaced his comments with the caveat that he plays no role in the campaign, nor does he advise Obama.

But he's black (thanks for that news flash Rush), like Obama, so they must be tight....right ? LOL.

Another straw for the McCain camp and the Obama opponents to clutch at.

Posted by: mathas | October 15, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Things are really going to far now! Huff post reports on Rush Limbaughs recent radio commentary on blacks.It is so blatantly rascist and ties Obama & all blacks to militancy ...if the media doesnt finally take a strong stand on this horrible rhetoric then it is being totally irresponsible. If this type of broadcast isnt inciting violence against blacks then nothing is! Free speech is one thing...promoting hatred is another!!

Posted by: Goose3 | October 15, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

You think Karl Rove made Rev. Jackson say those things?

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 15, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I smell Rove.

Posted by: rooster54 | October 15, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

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