Clinton and Obama Camps Spar on Jeremiah Wright

CLEVELAND — In the spin room following the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist noted that though Barack Obama distanced himself from Louis Farrakhan Tuesday night, he did not distance himself from his minister, Jeremiah Wright, who has praised Farrakhan.

“If you listen to the answers, (Obama) only responded to Farrakhan, and he never responded to the fact that his minister, I believe, if I have it right, said that Farrakhan was a person of ‘greatness,'” Clinton strategist Mark Penn said. “And so, if you listen very carefully, I do not think he in fact rejected or denounced his minister praising Farrakahn.”

Farrakhan also received an award from a magazine connected with Wright.

I asked Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, to respond, and he chalked it up to desperation on the Clinton side.

“I understand that we’re in the middle of a tough campaign, and as we read this morning, the Clinton campaign’s plan is to throw everything they possibly can at Senator Obama and hope that something sticks, so I’m not surprised to see Mark try that,” Axelrod said. “But the reality is that everybody, all of America, heard Senator Obama clearly and unequivocally denounce and reject Minister Farakahn’s comments, and especially his anti-Semitism. And he has said repeatedly that he thought it was a mistake to give him an award, there’s no ambiguity about that.”