by Nick Juliano

Barack Obama said the Jeremiah Wright who’s reinserted himself into the spotlight over the last few days “was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” and he condemned his former pastor’s eagerness to grab headlines with controversial statements in the most forceful language he’s used so far.

“His comments were not only divisive and destructive,” Obama said, “but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who pray on hate.”

Obama said he was particularly angered by Wright’s insinuation that his previous condemnation of the former pastor’s most controversial statements was simply a move of expedience in a heated campaign.

“If Rev. Wright thinks that is political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well,” Obama said. “And based on his remarks yesterday, well I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

Acknowledging that he was powerless to prevent more “outrageous remarks” from Rev. Wright, Obama made clear that the former pastor spoke only for himself and that his comments were antithetical to the ideals Obama holds dear and has emphasized throughout the campaign.

He went on to slam Wright’s apparent glee at regaining hold of the media spotlight and all-but-accused him of seeking publicity out of his own self interest, saying it has distracted voters from the issues that should be important in the presidential campaign.

“People want some help in stabilizing their lives, and securing a better future for themselves and their children. And that’s what we should be talking about,” Obama said. “The fact that Rev. Wright would think that somehow it was approriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry but also saddens me.”

Obama spent more than a half-hour addressing the Wright dust-up Tuesday after his former pastor re-entered the headlines with a televised interview and bombastic speeches before the NAACP and the National Press Club in Washington.

“What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for,” Obama said of Wright’s most recent appearances.

In a previous speech on the Wright controversy, Obama tried to put his most controversial comments into the context of the issue of race in America. It was a widely hailed speech in which Obama did not completely throw Wright under the bus, instead saying that some of the remarks had been taken out of context to create a caricature of his former pastor.

That deference was not visible in Tuesday’s speech.

“Yesterday, I think he caricatured himself,” Obama said. “That made me angry, but also made me sad.”

This video is from CNN.com, broadcast April 29, 2008.

Download video