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Obama camp: Clinton trying to 'distract attention'

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton says she would have left a church with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright
  • Barack Obama's camp says Clinton trying to distract attention from Bosnia remarks
  • Clinton criticized for exaggerating 1996 trip to Bosnia
  • Sen. John McCain outlines vision for U.S. national security policy
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(CNN) -- As Sen. Barack Obama returns from his Caribbean vacation, he and his campaign pick up where they left off -- wrapped up in the controversy surrounding his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Sen. Barack Obama resumes campaigning Wednesday following his Caribbean vacation.

The issue returned to the spotlight Tuesday when Sen. Hillary Clinton responded to a reporter's question about what she would have done if she were a member of Wright's church.

"I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said at a news conference in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Obama on Wednesday again condemned the remarks Wright made but implied the sermons were taken out of context.

"They found five or six of the most offensive statements, and boiled it down into a half an hour sound clip or a half-minute sound clip, and just played it over and over and over again," Obama said while campaigning in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Some of Wright's past sermons came under scrutiny nearly two weeks ago when a news report highlighted ones that included racially charged remarks.

Clinton avoided commenting on the controversy when it first surfaced. Video Watch Clinton on the Wright issue »

Obama's camp said Clinton's remarks were part of a "transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia," a reference to comments Clinton made last week.

"The truth is Barack Obama has already spoken out against his pastor's offensive comments and addressed the issue of race in America with a deeply personal and uncommonly honest speech," Obama campaign press secretary Bill Burton said.

"The American people deserve better than tired political games that do nothing to solve the larger challenges facing this country."

Clinton later said she "misspoke" when describing a dangerous arrival in Bosnia in 1996.

In a foreign policy speech last week at George Washington University, Clinton described "landing under sniper fire" and having to run across the tarmac.

But video footage of her arrival at Tuzla shows Clinton, then first lady, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side. Both Clintons held their heads up and did not appear rushed.

Chelsea Clinton also got thrown into the middle of another controversy Tuesday while campaigning for her mother at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

An audience member asked her whether the Monica Lewinsky scandal had damaged her mother's credibility. Video Watch Chelsea Clinton's response »

"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business," Clinton responded, appearing a bit surprised.

The 28-year-old was expected to continue campaigning Wednesday, speaking at the University of Notre Dame before teaming up with her mother in Washington for a "March to Victory" event.

In North Carolina on Wednesday, Obama focused on the housing crisis and drew contrasts with Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

McCain delivered a speech about world affairs Wednesday, outlining his vision for U.S. national security policy and emphasizing strengthening alliances with democracies.

He spent the first half of the week campaigning and fundraising in California.

McCain has been able to shift his focus to the general election, while the Democrats are still duking it out for a nominee.

Neither Clinton nor Obama may get enough delegates -- 2,024 -- to clinch the nomination before the national convention in August. Clinton is trailing Obama in delegates, 1,485 to 1,622.

For the second time this week, Clinton hinted that even pledged delegates awarded in primaries and caucuses are up for grabs.

"Every delegate with very few exceptions is free to make up his or her mind however they choose," she told Time's Mark Halperin in an interview published Wednesday. "We talk a lot about so-called pledged delegates, but every delegate is expected to exercise independent judgment."

According to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday, 28 percent of Clinton supporters may break ranks to back McCain in November should Obama capture the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, 19 percent of Obama supporters say they will favor McCain should Clinton be the party's nominee.

The poll was conducted March 7-22 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Pennsylvania is the next battleground for the two Democrats, and the state's demographics could play in Clinton's favor in the April 22 primary.

"Two million residents over the age of 65 ... a very heavily unionized state ... a lot of Catholics in this state ... women in Pennsylvania vote at a higher rate than men in Pennsylvania," said John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Clinton also has family roots in Pennsylvania. Her father, Hugh Rodham, was the son of a factory worker from Scranton, according to the Clinton campaign.

Obama is campaigning on a message of "change," but it might not be an issue that resonates with Pennsylvania voters, according to Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst. More than three-quarters of the people who live in the state were born there, he noted.

"It speaks to a state where change isn't an important element in day-to-day life," Baer said.


Pennsylvania's a diverse state -- part Midwest, part Northeast, according to a pollster.

"The eastern part of Pennsylvania is more like New Jersey, and the western part is more like Ohio, and she won both of them," said pollster Terry Madonna. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Alex Mooney, Bill Schneider and Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report.

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