The 1998 White House photo of Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., and President Bill Clinton at a prayer service (one where Vice President Al Gore was in attendance, as was Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to her schedule), isn’t the only foray the Clintons had with Wright.
According to former Clinton White House aides, Wright had been identified as a potential “influencer” for the African-American community by the Administration back in 1993.
“Reverend Wright was someone we very much wanted to cultivate and develop,” says one aide familiar with the outreach attempts. “We had him on short lists for various commissions and working groups. He and his church were recommended as potential sponsors of White House events in Chicago for our advance office. He was on our radar screen very early on.”
Just how extensive the contact was only Reverend Wright and White House staff would really know. Much of the documentary materials in the Clinton Library have largely been shelved under lock and key until after the 2008 election cycle.
The Clinton presidential campaign has moved very quickly in an attempt to shut down any potential leaks. According to one knowledgeable Clinton campaign adviser in Washington, former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman was contacted by senior campaign officials during the week of March 10 to discuss her recollections of the early days of the Clinton Administration, when she was serving as the director of the White House office of public liaison, and whatever documents she might have on Wright.
Herman is in a difficult position on several fronts of this story. Not only was she a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules Committee, which set the rules on the primary races (including the penalties for early primaries such as the ones held in Florida and Michigan), but she is now serving on the DNC’s convention credentialing committee, which may well decide just how Florida and Michigan delegates will be apportioned at the convention in Denver.
By the way, the other two co-chairs of that committee all served the Clinton Administration in some capacity, though the full committee may end up having as many at 160 members.
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