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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sharpton blames Obama camp for 'jealous' allegation


Sharpton said he needs to know more about Obama before he makes an endorsement.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton alleged Tuesday that Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign planted a story in the New York Post claiming the civil-rights leader was withholding his support of the Illinois Democrat, because he is 'jealous' of Obama's soaring popularity.

"It's important to point out, they started this," Sharpton told CNN. "I mean I wake up yesterday morning with no warning and [read] 'is he jealous because he wont endorse?' I've never heard anything like that in my life in politics."

"This is one time I didn't start the fight," he said.

The article, published in the Post Monday, cites a black Democratic operative, who supports Sen. Hillary Clinton, claiming Sharpton is launching an effort to "tear down" Obama. The article also quotes another black Democratic activist who purports, "it's driving Al crazy that Obama is as impressive and popular as he is, and he's not happy about it."

Sharpton denied any such effort, saying he wants to know more about where Obama and the rest of the Democratic field stand on civil-rights issues before he offers support.

"I want to talk about a civil rights agenda as a priority, and the answer to that is not, 'oh if you want to talk about issues you must be jealous,'" he said. "This is what we have always done."

"Are we going to force people with no questions to get into a certain column?" he added. "I don't think that's a good precedent for anyone in American politics."

Sharpton said Obama called him about the article last night, but wasn't available to take his call. He said he plans on calling the Illinois Democrat back.

Asked about the possibility of running for president again, Sharpton said, "I would prefer not being in this cycle, but I am not going to be silent whether I am in the race or not, nor do I think anyone else should be."

Obama's campaign tells CNN says there is no rift between the Illinois senator and Sharpton and said Obama plans to attend Sharpton's National Action Network Conference next month.

Watch Video: Sharpton sounds off on Obama's campaign

Watch Video: CNN's Mary Snow reports on whether Sharpton and Obama are on the verge of a spat

-- CNN Correspondent Mary Snow contributed to this report

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