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Obama-Pfleger 05-30

Priest latest thorn for Obama

He’s a white priest at a largely black church. He’s held hands with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. He’s been arrested dozens of times and battled anyone he thinks has wronged his parish — from gun dealers to a local Catholic sports league.

Now the Rev. Michael Pfleger is something else: the latest thorn in the side of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Racially charged comments Pfleger made last week mocking Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton — as a guest at Obama’s church, no less — triggered a quick response from Obama, who wants nothing to do with a racial firestorm like the one generated by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

While Pfleger is not nearly as close to Obama as Wright had been, he has donated to the candidate’s state Senate and presidential campaigns and sat on a Catholics for Obama committee until a few weeks ago. When Obama was in the Illinois Legislature, he helped land more than $200,000 in state grants for outreach programs run by Pfleger’s church.

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Obama made it clear he wasn’t happy with the comments — in which Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show" — and said he was "deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."

Pfleger, too, issued an apology, saying he was sorry if his comments offended Clinton or anyone else. He did not return several calls for comment on Friday.

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