Barack Obama issued a firm denial Monday to a report that he was in church in Chicago last July when his controversial pastor delivered an anti-white sermon.
Doubts were cast on the story Monday as records showed the Democratic presidential contender was in Miami that day.
On the “fact check” portion of Obama’s campaign Web site, the campaign states: “Fact: Obama Did Not Attend Services on July 22.”
Reports circulated over the weekend that Obama had attended the fiery sermon that day by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. But a copy of Obama’s schedule viewed by FOX News as well as video of Obama speaking appear to place him in Miami that day at a convention of the National Council of La Raza.
A National Council of La Raza official recalls Obama arriving on time that day for a 1:30 p.m. event that was part of the group’s annual national convention.
It is not clear whether he might have been able to attend church in Chicago before or after flying to Miami for his appearance. The National Council of La Raza official told FOXNews.com he was not involved in any travel plans for Obama to arrive at the convention.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Obama declined to field new questions about Wright. In what is campaign is billing as a major speech on race, Obama said he would in part discuss how some issues are being perceived inside and outside the black church community.
Obama again said he condemned the controversial statements by Wright that had come to light, but he believed the media frenzy has taken a wrong turn on its coverage.
“I think the caricature that is being painted of him is not accurate,” Obama said.
Obama in the last few days has denied being present for any of Wright’s inflammatory speeches at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Wright retired last month as senior pastor.
Obama’s purported attendance at the sermon was first reported by NewsMax.com freelance reporter Jim Davis; it was noted again Sunday by NewsMax.com writer Ronald Kessler.
Davis reported last Aug. 7 that Obama and his Secret Service detail had been among the parishioners attending the July 22 sermon in which Wright spoke of the “United States of white America” and blamed the Iraq war on “Bush administration bull—-.”
NewsMax issued a clarification Monday to its story, adding that Davis stands by his reporting that Obama attended a service in July fitting the description he first reported, but he no longer was sure it was on July 22.
The report was advanced Monday by columnist Bill Kristol, a FOX News contributor, in his weekly column in The New York Times. Kristol cited Kessler’s report as evidence that Obama is not being fully candid about his relationship with Wright. The New York Times later published a correction to Kristol’s piece.
Wright’s comments in the July 22 sermon were mild in comparison to other sermons he delivered, sermons Obama has said he did not attend.
In one sermon Wright repeatedly said, “God damn America”; in another he blasted former President Bill Clinton, saying he “did” blacks “just like he did Monica Lewinsky.”
Following mounting pressure last week, Obama denounced Wright’s words, and Wright stepped down from Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.
Obama told FOX News Friday that he condemned the text of Wright’s controversial sermons, in which he condemned the United States as institutionally racist and blamed the government for HIV and the Sept. 11 attacks. Video clips of the sermons were played in heavy rotation on national television late last week.
“Once I saw them I had to be very clear about the fact that these are not statements that I am comfortable with,” Obama said. “I reject them completely — they are not ones that reflect my values or my ideals or Michelle’s.”
Obama called Wright’s remarks “inflammatory and appalling” in a written statement Friday.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has yet to comment on the matter. Clinton faced heavy criticism over a racial issue of her own last week after top campaign adviser Geraldine Ferraro said the only reason Obama had gotten so far in the presidential campaign was because he was black. Ferraro resigned from the campaign’s finance committee shortly after her remarks.