HAMPTON—Same brashness. Same spontaneity. Same lightning-rod remarks.
If you were thinking the Rev. Jeremiah Wright had been tempered by a national backlash that nearly derailed Barack Obama's trip to the White House, guess again.
Hampton University Ministers' Conference, Wright told the Daily Press that he has not spoken to his former church member since Obama became president, and he implied that the White House won't allow Obama to talk to him.
"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me," Wright said. "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. ...
"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 also said Obama should have sent a U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Racism held recently in Geneva, Switzerland, but that the president did not for fear of offending Jews and Israel. He specifically cited the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group.
"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.
Reactions to Wright's comments regarding Jews and Israel lit up Internet message boards and political blogs around the nation on Wednesday, and sparked national TV requests for an audio recording of the interview.
In Newport News, Rabbi Scott Gurdin at Temple Sinai said Wright "is missing an opportunity to build alliances and bridges."
"I want to be cautious about what I say, because I don't want to sound like Rev. Wright," Gurdin said. "But my goodness, if a prominent Jewish person said something at a rabbinical conference that was disparaging against blacks, he (Wright) would be all over it."
Richard Gordon, chairman of the Community Relations Commission of the United Jewish Community Center, said: "My impression is that Barack Obama ... is doing what he thinks is in the best interest of the country, and his advisers are telling him the best way to accomplish that.
"It would also be my opinion that he wants to distance himself from Rev. Wright because of these spurious and ridiculous accusations that he consistently and persistently makes."
In the interview after a nighttime sermon Tuesday at the ministers conference, Wright offered that he has no regrets over the controversy that resulted in a severed relationship with Obama, a former member of the Chicago church of which Wright was the longtime pastor.
"Regret for what ... that the media went back five, seven, 10 years and spent $4,000 buying 20 years worth of sermons to hear what I've been preaching for 20 years?
"Regret for preaching like I've been preaching for 50 years? Absolutely none."
Wright said that when he went to the polls, he did not hold any grudge against Obama.
"Of course I voted for him — he's my son. I'm proud of him," Wright said. "I've got five biological kids. They all make mistakes and bad choices. I haven't stopped loving any of them.
"He made mistakes. He made bad choices. I've got kids who listen to their friends. He listened to those around him. I did not disown him."
The son of a pastor, Wright has attended the HU ministers conference since he was a child — though he was not spotted at the conference in 2008 during the heat of the campaign debate over comments he made that many branded racially divisive.
The Rev. William Curtis, president of the ministers conference, said the Wright controversy is a "personal matter" for the Chicago pastor.
"Dr. Wright is a part of the church and he is a friend of the church and his views are personal," Curtis said. "And they don't represent the statements and views of the entire African-American pulpit.
"And whether or not he believes or perceives there were some strategies behind President Obama's campaign, we are grateful to have an African-American president."