Sweet column: Greg Craig says Wright stir the "low point" of Obama bid

NEW YORK — The uproar over Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, shook up his staffers and was the “low point” of his presidential bid, an adviser told donors Thursday, providing the first inside account of how the Wright crisis affected the campaign.

“Probably the low point in the campaign occurred last Saturday . . . with the Rev. Wright experience, and everybody was asking ourselves, ‘How much damage would it do and why and could it be repaired?’” said Greg Craig, one of Obama’s chief foreign policy advisers. Craig spoke at a sold-out, $1,000-a-person fund-raising lunch in Manhattan headlined by Obama.

“And I can tell you the campaign was running around just as much on a roller coaster as the rest of us were,” said Craig, who once served as one of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment lawyers.

Obama traveled to Manhattan for fund-raisers, to sprint through a series of interviews and to deliver a speech on the economy at which he was introduced by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent and onetime Republican and Democrat.

Last December, Obama and Bloomberg breakfasted together, and Obama paid the billionaire’s tab. On Wednesday, the Obama campaign confirmed, Obama called Bloomberg and asked him to look over his speech and introduce him before he spoke. Bloomberg made a point of saying he has not endorsed anyone yet. Obama has been wooing and attracting Independents and Republicans, and Bloomberg’s appearance triggered speculation of an Obama-Bloomberg ticket.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal national survey shows Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a tie and both in a statistical dead heat with presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain.

“This poll shows that despite this experience, Barack Obama’s negatives had not increased. They’re exactly the same, and to the extent that we took a hit, we recovered … and it shows I think the resilience of not only the campaign but of the candidate,” Craig said at the fund-raiser.

Still, the Wright episode is not behind Obama and remains a problem for the general election, if Obama is the nominee. NBC reported Thursday that bulletins published by Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side included “anti-Israel” material and a piece calling Italians “garlic noses” and references to “White supremacists” who “run the U.S. government.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said, “I think comments like that have no place in the public discourse.”

The Obama-Clinton contest is in its most tense phase, as Democrats worry if the civil war will only assure a McCain victory in November.

Obama told ABC’s Charlie Gibson on Thursday, “I don’t think we are hurt, long-term. … I think what’s gonna happen is that there are gonna be some bruised feelings, whoever the nominee is.”

The fund-raiser was in a banquet hall in the Credit Suisse building but was not, contrary to the Clinton campaign claim, connected with the firm, one of those associated with the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Obama also visited with the women of ABC’s “The View,” where co-host Barbara Walters told him in a segment to be broadcast today, “We thought you were very sexy looking.” Obama made no reply. But he did fan himself.

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