Local superdelegate still backing Obama

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 20, 2008

NATCHEZ — City attorney and superdelegate Everett Sanders likened Sen. Barack Obama’s most recent speech to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I thought that what he said will be something that will transcend this campaign season,” Sanders said.

Obama’s speech was in response to controversy surrounding incendiary comments made by his former minister the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

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One comment by Wright declared that Sen. Hillary Clinton was ahead in the presidential race because she is white.

Obama’s speech Tuesday tackled the issue of race, one of the first times Obama has heavily addressed this issue in his campaign, and political pundits’ opinions range from calling it exceptional to saying it’s lacking.

Sanders, who has found more respect for Obama through the ordeal, calls it profound.

“His eloquence in dealing with the issue was just outstanding,” Sanders said. “I can’t recall anyone else perhaps since Martin Luther King treating the issue in any way as profound as Sen. Obama did.”

He said the speech was appropriate in responding to the concerns of citizens.

“I’m not certain what else he could have said that would allay the concerns of those persons who have viewed it from a negative standpoint,” Sanders said.

Obama has received some flak from people claiming he denounced his minister of 20 years who officiated his marriage and baptized his two children.

Sanders believes otherwise.

“He acknowledged the positive things, the contributions that his minister has made to the community there in Chicago as well as being a source of inspiration while he distances himself from the remarks,” Sanders said.

On the other end of the spectrum, some claim that Obama should have denounced Wright.

Denunciation would have been the wrong thing to do, though, Sanders said.

“I think to require him to denounce the individual would be inconsistent with the notion of Christianity,” he said.

Many political analysts have been talking in the aftermath strictly about Obama discussing race at all, as it’s a sensitive subject.

Much analysis has arisen from this speech trying to determine whether it was handled well by the senator.

Sanders believes he did handle it well.

“He’s challenged the citizens of this country to bridge the racial divide that exists,” Sanders said. “I thought it was a very scholarly presentation as well as a realistic and acrid assessment of the current status of race relations as well as its historical development.”

He said he believes this controversy will not harm Obama’s campaign, but he hopes that everyone will move on to other more pressing topics.

“There are more important issues that need to be addressed, the high cost of gasoline, foreclosures that are being experience, we’re in a recession and we’re involved in a very unpopular war,” Sanders said. “All of these issues are matters that the average citizen in concerned about.”

“I hope that the discussion of Sen. Obama’s minister will come to an end and the real issues will be moved to the forefront again.”