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Obama addresses Rev. Wright issue

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
WILMINGTON, NC -- In a hastily arranged press conference next to the whirring engine of his 757 Monday afternoon, Obama spoke about his controversial former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Wright is back in the news today after delivering a fierce defense of himself and the ideas he has put forth in which he argued that mainstream America did not understand the black church.

Obama did not address the content of Wright's remarks to the National Press Club in Washington today, instead restating his view that he found some of the pastor's remarks offensive but saying the man whose church he has attended for 20 years had a right to speak his own mind.

"He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign, and so, he may make statements in the future that don't reflect my values or concerns," the senator told reporters who strained to hear him on the loud tarmac. At one point, he had to pause as a helicopter flew by.

Obama said he would remain focused on the issues voters were asking him about, like how to deal with lost jobs and high gas prices. He said voters had not mentioned Wright to him. He argued, as he did earlier today, that his rivals were trying to distract the American people and make this election about him.

"Obviously, what people like John McCain are now doing is, not being on the strong side of the issues, have decided they're gonna try to make this campaign about me," he said.

He said voters could separate him from his associates.

"I think people will understand that I am not perfect," he said, "and that, you know, there are gonna be … folks in my past like Rev. Wright that may cause them some concern, but that ultimately … my 20 years of service and the values that I've written about and spoken about and promoted are their values and what they're concerned about and that's what this camp has been about and what its going to continue to be about."

Obama also reacted to a Supreme Court ruling today that would allow states to require voters show a valid photo ID at the polls, arguing that it discourages turnout and that there was no evidence of voter fraud to justify requiring such measures.

"There are a lot of seniors who don't have photo IDs," he said. "There are a lot of low-income people that don't have photo IDs. The fact that they may cost money means that some people will choose not get them and are less likely to vote. I disagree with the decision, but we're going to do everything that we can in our campaign, and I trust that not only the Democratic Party but fair-minded Republicans are gonna do whatever they can at the state levels to make sure that people are able to exercise the franchise."