HAMPTON, Va. — President Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, blamed "them Jews" in an interview this week for keeping him from speaking to the president, but later apologized.
Wright, the former pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, said he hasn't spoken to Obama since he became president.
"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office," Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News following a Tuesday night sermon at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference.
"They will not let him to talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. ... I said from the beginning: He's a politician; I'm a pastor. He's got to do what politicians do."
Wright issued a statement Thursday that he was "disturbed and deeply saddened" that his comments were stirring discussion again.
"I apologize for the way I framed my comments. I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration," Wright said. "I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition."
Obama was a longtime member of the church but resigned from it and cut ties with Wright after videos surfaced during the presidential campaign showing Wright's sometimes provocative sermons. Wright's incendiary comment included shouting "God damn America" and accusing the government of creating AIDS.
In the interview Tuesday, Wright also criticized Obama for not sending a U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Racism held recently in Geneva, Switzerland, saying Obama chose not to for fear of offending Jews and Israel.
"Ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza. Ethnic cleansing (by) the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity, and they don't want Barack talking like that because that's anti-Israel," Wright said.
The White House declined to comment to the Associated Press on Thursday on Wright's remarks.