Jackson Says He’s Not Envious of Obama

Ashley M. Heher, AP, July 10, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama shrugged off a crude comment aimed at him by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, accepting an apology for a remark Jackson made as he contended that Obama wasn’t speaking to issues important to the black community.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson issued an apology to Barack Obama Wednesday after comments he made about the presidential candidate were picked up on an open microphone. After a Fox News interview on Sunday, Jackson said, “Barack, he’s talking down to black people.”

Unaware that his microphone was on during a break for a Fox News program last Sunday, Jackson used a slang reference to wanting to cut off Obama’s testicles. When he learned Wednesday that the Fox News program “The O’Reilly Factor” would air his comments that night, Jackson apologized for “hurtful and wrong” remarks.

In an interview Thursday on CNN’s “American Morning,” Jackson disputed suggestions that his comment stemmed from envy. “That’s kind of ridiculous. He’s running the last lap of a 54-year marathon. He is running that race. I am a part of that race,” Jackson said, referring to the modern civil rights struggle. Jackson ran for president on the Democratic ticket in 1984 and 1988.

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“For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize,” [Jackson] said in a written apology released Wednesday. “My support for Sen. Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal.”

Jackson said he called Obama’s campaign to apologize.

Though Jackson supports Obama, the two are not close.

In September, The State newspaper in South Carolina reported that Jackson had said Obama was “acting like he’s white” in his response to the arrest of six black juveniles in Jena, La. Jackson disputed the quote.

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[Editor’s Note: Hear the O’Reilly segment on Jackson’s remarks here.]

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