Senator Barack Obama won the crucial North Carolina primary Tuesday after the Democratic presidential candidate sought to regain momentum following the recent controversy regarding his relationship with his fiery former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
A recent CBS News / New York Times poll suggests that Obama is having some success in moving past the issue, which deals with the pastor's comments on race and the U.S. government. Sixty percent of those surveyed say they approve of the way Obama has handled the issue. But another poll by USA Today and Gallup shows the issue has helped Obama's rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, move to a seven-point-led over him among Democrats nationwide.
Wright is standing by many of his controversial statements, which include the idea that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States may have been in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy. He has also asserted that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus to kill black people. Senator Obama has said he is outraged by the assertions and says there is no basis for the claims.
Regarding race, Senator Obama has said he does not believe race is a central issue in November's election that could make the Illinois senator the nation's first black president. He acknowledged in a recent interview on Fox television that while race is still a factor in U.S. society, he believes voters care more about electing a president who can solve their problems.
Presumptive Republican nominee Senator John McCain has said he will not make Obama's relationship with Wright an issue in the campaign if Obama is the Democratic nominee. But McCain says Obama will have to discuss the issue with the American people.