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Blacks wrestle with Obama-Wright rift

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"Your pastor is your No. 1 man in the neighborhood," says Mr. Durrah, a Democrat who says neither Obama nor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had inspired him enough to vote in the District of Columbia primary.

"But Obama stepped backwards on" Wright, Durrah said early Wednesday on his walk home from work. "I'm wondering why he's cutting ties with the man."

In remarks in North Carolina Tuesday, Obama offered an unsparing repudiation of Wright, a fiery, erudite preacher who is retiring this year from the 8,000-member Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side.

"What Reverend Wright said yesterday directly contradicts everything I've done during my life," Obama said at the news conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. Obama was responding to Wright's defiant appearance at the National Press Club here Monday. The Chicago pastor defended his plea that "God damn America," his claim that the government is capable of creating HIV to kill people of color, and other comments that critics have called unpatriotic and racially incendiary.

"The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago," said Obama. "That's enough," he added, calling Wright's remarks a "bunch of rants."

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