early and often

Reverend Wright Is Back!

Obama Wright

Photo: AP

Like those movie monsters that just won’t die, the Reverend Wright horror show is back again — and it’s scaring Obama supporters who are hoping to win over skeptical white working-class voters in the pivotal Indiana primary. After talking to PBS and the Detroit NAACP over the weekend, as well as the D.C. Press Club earlier today, Wright, who happens to be working on a book, has returned to forefront of the campaign dialogue. And John McCain is joining the conversation. After saying he wouldn’t make an issue out of Wright, the straight-talker is using Obama’s own words to change his stance. On Fox News Sunday, Obama told Chris Wallace, “The fact he’s my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that.” McCain responded later in the day that “if he believes that, then, it will probably be a political issue,” and then proceeded to (inaccurately) bring up more of Wright’s old, controversial remarks and tie them to Obama.

• Ben Smith calls McCain’s new justification for discussing Wright “either clever, or too cute, depending on how you see it,” but says it will keep the issue alive regardless by signaling to his surrogates that it’s fair game. [Politico]

• Jake Tapper says McCain is pulling “quite an interesting maneuver,” noting that McCain is misrepresenting what Wright said at the same time he’s criticizing a North Carolina ad that quotes him accurately. [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Michael Cooper thinks McCain’s comments are a “shift in tone” and notes that some Republicans had worried that by not using Reverend Wright against Obama, McCain was ignoring a potent weapon. [NYT]

• Reid Wilson says McCain has to walk an “increasingly impossible tightrope” between exploiting the explosive issue of race and using it for his own gain. [Politics Nation/Real Clear Politics]

• Chuck Todd and friends speculate about why McCain has turned negative on Obama in recent days: He’s trying to define Obama in relation to Wright, William Ayers, and even Hamas; he’s “drawing a line in the sand” that he’s going to be tough on Obama; and he’s placating and shoring up his base of support. At the same time, this turnabout is “very un-McCain” and could end up hurting him as much as it helps him. Wright’s reemergence in recent days, including his speech today, could also be “as selfish of a move as we’ve seen in some time.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Taylor Marsh calls Wright’s renewed publicity his “Rehabilitation and Retribution Tour” and said that if he “cared at all about the man he has mentored spiritually he wouldn’t be up front and center giving speeches that insult people like John F. Kennedy,” whose accent he mocked in front of the Detroit NAACP. [Taylor Marsh]

• Marc Ambinder says that Wright “seems to very much enjoy the attention” and “seems not to care about Barack Obama’s politics or aspirations anymore.” [Atlantic]

• Jim Geraghty doesn’t fault McCain, asking whether he would be expected to argue with Obama that Wright isn’t a legitimate issue after Obama had said he was. [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Susan Estrich writes that deciding to raise his profile after the controversy had calmed down is the worst thing Wright could have done for his friend and parishioner. But in the end, Wright’s reemergence could benefit Obama by putting everything out there “now, not later.” [Fox News] —Dan Amira

Related: How Much Worse Will the Democratic Race Get?

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Reverend Wright Is Back!