(March 26, 2008) - With events on the campaign trail in recent weeks leaving Senator Barack Obama with sagging poll numbers, losses in key state primaries, and increasing questions about his ability transcend racial issues, Senator Obama took the bold step today of calling for change.
"We began this campaign over a year ago, calling on the Democratic party and America to rise above the divisive partisanship of the past eight years. We are no less committed to that promise of a new politics today than we were then."
Obama says he has been watching the polls, the news, and has been hearing from voters that the ideals he has spoken of on the campaign trail still resonate.
"You never know exactly where a campaign will go, what issues will be raised, what questions must be answered. But while you cannot control the external factors thrusting themselves onto a campaign, we will never lose focus on our core principles of bringing change and unity."
Obama's campaign seemed to have first been thrown off balance after remarks made by his wife, Michelle, were viewed by many as complaining and ungrateful, a stark contrast to the hope with which Barack Obama speaks on the campaign trail.
"While I firmly believe that my wife's words were taken completely out of context, I understand that voters can make up their own minds. To the extent that what she has said has caused voters to doubt our message, I reject those words", Obama responded.
In recent weeks, the Obama campaign has also been forced to deal with a number of controversies surrounding campaign advisors. One was termed NAFTA-gate, in which Austan Goolsbee, a top economic advisor to Obama, told a meeting of Canadian officials that Obama's words on the NAFTA treaty were campaign rhetoric, assuring them that a President Obama would not act as candidate Obama was speaking. Samantha Power, a top foreign policy advisor to Obama, stepped down from her role because of a comment she made referring to Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival in the race, as a "monster". And just this past weekend, in response to a speech given by Bill Clinton, Retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, an Obama campaign co-chairman, compared Clinton to Joe McCarthy. Similarly, Gordon Fischer, an Obama campaign co-chair in Iowa, said Clinton’s remarks has left a stain worse than the one on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.
But perhaps most damaging to the campaign has been the recent controversy surrounding his relationship with his pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Video of Rev. Wright making incendiary remarks during sermons have been replayed endlessly on network and cable news shows. Many people began questioning how Obama, who is committed to a post-racial vision of America, could have maintained a 20-plus year relationship with Wright, even calling him his spiritual mentor.
The Wright relationship became such a story that Senator Obama chose to deliver a major speech on race relations in America. The speech was highly lauded in many parts of the media. However, much voter reaction was at odds with this view of the speech. Many people questioned why Obama would not break ties with his pastor and why he would draw an equivalency between the words of Rev. Wright with the actions of his grandmother many years earlier.
In a recently released poll by Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion, over 80% of respondents had heard the controversy of Obama's relationship to his pastor and the speech Obama gave in response. Over half of the people surveyed who knew of the speech indicated that it made them less likely to vote for Obama. In fact, 56% of blacks who had heard the speech said they were less likely to vote for Obama as a result of the speech.
As a result of the last few weeks in the campaign, Obama is now making a bold call for change.
"America has spoken and we have heard her voices. This nation is tired of divisive politics, tired of bitter partisanship, tired of pitting one group of people against another. We have promised change and we will not shrink from delivering change. As I have stated many times, the change must start at the top. As a result of the events of the last several weeks, the controversy they have created and the divisiveness that clearly has been caused, it is clear what this campaign must do. Therefore, I am stepping down as the candidate of my campaign. I look forward to the process in which we select a new candidate to head my campaign. This change is one that helps fulfill our promise to our supporters and to all Americans that we are serious and committed to ending divisiveness in all its forms, including me."
Instalanche! Thanks, Glenn...