Obama Speech Falls Short

The senator failed to reach the critical constituencies beyond his flock.

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How effective was Barack Obama's Tuesday speech on faith and race, in terms of putting to rest questions about his ties to controversial minister Jeremiah Wright? Polls reflecting America's reaction to the speech won't be out for days or weeks, but it appears the speech did little but preach to those already in Obama's flock.

Obama had the opportunity to lure undecided Reagan Democrats, independents, evangelical Christians, and American Jews, deeply suspicious of Wright's close relationship with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. But he said renouncing the pastor would be like renouncing part of himself. In so doing, he thrilled African-American and liberal Democratic supporters but lost an opportunity to appeal to centrist voters, who will be critical to victory in November should he secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama's speech, however, is likely to add grist to conservative claims that he has been less than honest about his knowledge of Wright's most controversial remarks. Obama himself last week posted remarks online denying he'd ever heard Wright make controversial remarks in person.

One conservative website claims to have proof that Obama was indeed present for at least some of the controversial rhetoric last year.

Meanwhile, Obama's national popularity has predictably taken some hits as a result of recent revelations. Reuters reports that:

Democrat Barack Obama's big national lead over Hillary Clinton has all but evaporated in the U.S. presidential race, and both Democrats trail Republican John McCain, according [to] a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday. The poll showed Obama had only a statistically insignificant lead of 47 percent to 44 percent over Clinton, down sharply from a 14 point edge he held over her in February when he was riding the tide of 10 straight victories.