What's a campaign to do when there's a need to put a controversy behind them? If you're the Obama camp, and you want to maybe have a conversation this month that doesn't include seventeen questions about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, you craft a simple soundbyte that emphasizes that candidate's well-chosen words, suggests a pattern of leadership, and alludes to a desire to move on to the important issues of the day. And then you hope it works!
If Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs learned anything today, though, is that the media isn't nearly done asking questions. But Gibbs tried, all the same, repeating his soundbyte twice before finally assenting to eight additional questions about the matter. Gibbs was probably smart to call off the effort after a second repetition - it's a fine line, but a third iteration would have made him look like a talking point-spewing cyborg.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think Barack Obama has seen the last of Reverend Wright?
GIBBS: You know, I believe that what he did yesterday was speak clearly and definitively about the outrageous statements that Reverend Wright repeated at the National Press Club on Monday. I think he showed toughness and leadership in doing so. And I think we are moving on to talk about issues that the American people genuinely care about.
SCARBOROUGH: If Clinton and McCain bring up Reverend Wright again do they risk looking craven since Barack Obama has gone there and explained it?
GIBBS: I think what is most important thing is what Barack Obama said and did. Whether others decide to play political games with this, time will only tell. But again, what Senator Obama did yesterday was speak clearly about the outrageousness of those statements. He conveyed that in a decisive way and think again it's time now to talk about the issues that people care about.
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