When he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama distanced himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and ended up tossing the reverend into the spacious territory below the Obama bus. But in the years before Wright’s racist and anti-American sermons became national news, Obama got the most out of his relationship with Wright. He borrowed the title of his second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope, from one of Wright’s sermons. In this 1995 interview he called Wright a “great man.” And when he was running for Senate in 2004, Obama played up his connection to Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ to build up a mainstream image; he credited that church with shaping his faith and values. Here is an Obama for Senate ad, available for the first time since Obama’s successful run for the US Senate in Illinois in 2004.
VOICEOVER: State Senator Barack Obama, candidate for the US Senate, talks about his family, his faith and his mission
OBAMA: My father was from Kenya, and he was part of that first generation who came to the United States right after independence. I teach Constitutional law at the University of Chicago. I’ve been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ for the last 15 years. And my faith as a Christian is deeply important to me. It provides me with the values that inform my politics.
The self-proclaimed post-partisan Obama went on to win that Senate campaign, in part by leaking the sealed divorce records of his strongest GOP contender, Jack Ryan, to get Ryan out of the race. Despite his play to faith in the 2004 ad, Obama would later slam rural Americans as people who bitterly cling to their God and their guns.