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Obama on NBC's Meet the Press

From NBC's Mark Murray
About the same time Clinton appeared on ABC, Obama sat down with NBC's Tim Russert to discuss Jeremiah Wright, gas taxes, Clinton's comments on Iran, and the Obama-Clinton race.

On Wright: "Well, obviously it's distracted us. I mean, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about Reverend Wright instead of talking about gas prices and food prices and the situation in Iraq.  And so it, it's, it wasn't welcome. But, you know, I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ... [W]hen Reverend Wright, who married me and baptized our, our children, when he made those statements, or I learned of those statements that I found so objectionable, I, I felt that they didn't define him. And so I spoke in Philadelphia about these issues and tried to construct, you know, a, a conversation about issues of race. But when I saw, this week, him come out and speak in a way that was just as divisive, that didn't explain or apologize, but rather worsened some of the comments that he had made previously, I felt it was very important to make clear that that's not who I am, that's not who I stand for. I don't think it represented well the church or the African-American church. And I had to make a clear statement. Hopefully we've been able to put it behind us."

On what he's learned from the episode: "Well, when you're in national politics, it's always good to pull the Band-Aid off quick... But life's messy sometimes, and, you know, it's not always neat, and things don't proceed in textbook Political 101 fashion. And so, you know, when I reflect back, you know, what I'm proud of is that, in the speech in Philadelphia, I think I made a contribution to the overall dialogue about how we deal with race in America. And I think that me denouncing his words without denouncing him was, at the time, the right thing to do. You know, I'm, I'm sorry that he didn't see an opportunity for him to reflect on the justifiable anger and pain that he had caused and to maybe, you know, suggest to the American people that's not, that's not what he believed. But clearly, you know, one of the things when you're running for president is that you don't have -- all this stuff is happening under a spotlight, and you've got to deal with it quickly."

On the gas-tax debate: "[T]his defines, I think, the difference between myself and Senator Clinton.  This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It, it is a political response to a serious problem that we have neglected for decades. Now, here's, here's the upshot. You're looking at suspending a gas tax for three months.  The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28. That's assuming that the oil companies don't step in and raise prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced... Now, Senator Clinton says that she's going to use the windfall profits tax to fill it. First of all, she's already said that she's going to use the windfall profits tax for something else, as I have, and, and that is to invest in clean energy and, and other important measures. So that money, she's already spending twice. More importantly, nobody thinks that George Bush is actually going to spend--or is actually going to sign a law for windfall profits taxes, so that's not going to happen this summer. So what this is, is a strategy to get through the next election."

On Hillary's "obliterate" Iran comment: "Well, it's not the language that we need right now, and I think it's language that's reflective of George Bush. We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber-rattling and tough talk, and, in the meantime, we make a series of strategic decisions that actually strengthen Iran. So -- and, you know, the irony is, of course, Senator Clinton, during the course of this campaign, has at times said, 'We shouldn't speculate about Iran.' You know, 'We've got to be cautious when we're running for president.' She scolded me on a couple of occasions about this issue, and yet, a few days before an election, she's willing to use that language."

And on what the remaining superdelegates should do: "I think the superdelegates, by rule, can make their own decision. I think the superdelegates are going to take a look not at momentary snapshot polls, but they're going to take a look at who's run the campaign that can bring about change in American and can actually govern after the election. And the number of new people that we've brought in, the organizations that we've set up in all 50 states, the enthusiasm, the energy that our campaign has displayed indicates to me and should indicate to the superdelegates that the American people are ready to move in a new direction, and that's what we're offering. And I'm confident that, if I am the nominee, that I offer Democrats the best chance of winning in November."