POLITICS

John McCain Flips: Jeremiah Wright Is Now Fair Game

05/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

UPDATE: Now that McCain feels it is politically appropriate to bring up Rev. Wright, he has launched a fresh new round of criticism to catch up for his weeks of chivalry. And McCain doesn't let facts get in the way:

"I saw yesterday some additional comments that have been revealed by Pastor Wright. One of them, comparing the United States Marine Corps with Roman legionnaires who were responsible for the death of our savior. I mean, being involved in that. It's beyond belief. And then of course, saying that al Qaeda and the American flag were the same flags. So, I can understand. I can understand why people are upset about this. I can understand why, that Americans when viewing these kinds of comments are angry and upset."

Jake Tapper points out that Wright never actually made those comments about the American flag. And Marc Ambinder notes that, "Wright was in the Marines. He was a corpesman in Vietnam. He voluntarily enlisted."

Meanwhile, even Hillary Clinton is finding fault with McCain's weak performance in halting the North Carolina GOP from running attack ads featuring Wright. McCain declared last week that he would do everything in his power to stop the ad from running.

"I have said that that that was a personal decision of his I answered one question about it that made it clear I would not have stayed in that church under those circumstances," Clinton told reporters in Graham, NC. "But, I regret the efforts by the Republicans to politicize this matter and I believe that if Senator McCain were serious he would do more than just send a letter he is the putative nominee I think he could very clearly tell the North Carolina party tell the Mississippi party that he would not tolerate those kinds of advertisements and I'm waiting to see if he does that."

Sen. John McCain has reversed his position to not discuss Rev. Jeremiah Wright during the general election if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. Claiming that Obama has made his relationship with Wright a political issue, McCain now says the topic is fair game.

Mention of Rev. Wright came during a McCain press conference on Sunday afternoon:

"I have said that I will not...have any comment on it and that's because I thought and I believe that Sen. Obama does not share those views" expressed by Wright, McCain said. "But Sen. Obama himself says it's a legitimate political issue, so I would imagine that many other people will share that view, and it'll be in the arena."

The statement came in response to an interview Obama conducted with Fox News Sunday that morning:

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that were doing it for some devious reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Question: Do you think that Reverend Wright is just the victim here?

OBAMA: No. I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past. The fact he's my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that.

I think that it is also true that to run a snippet of 30-second sound bites, selecting out of a 30-year career, simplified and caricatured him and caricatured the church.

The Obama camp has responded:

"By sinking to a level that he specifically said he'd avoid, John McCain has broken his word to the American people and rendered hollow his promise of a respectful campaign. With each passing day, John McCain acts more and more like someone who's spent twenty-six years learning the divisive, distracting tactics of Washington. That's not the change that the American people are looking for."

Watch clips of Obama's appearance on Fox News Sunday.

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