2007 Obama at Hampton University video: October surprise or old news?

10:18 AM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
Still image from a video showing then-Senator Barack Obama giving a speech in 2007 at Hampton University.
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(CBS NEWS) -- It was billed as a bombshell on the eve of the first presidential debate: A video showing then-Sen. Barack Obama making controversial comments about class and race. It wasn't until Fox News and the Daily Caller unveiled the video that it became clear that it was an event that had already seen by the public: Mr. Obama's speech to Hampton University in 2007.

What it succeeded in doing was reminding people about Mr. Obama's warm welcome at the event to his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright - the pastor whose incendiary remarks created such a controversy that Mr. Obama was forced to deliver his famous "race speech" in 2008 in response.

"I've got to give a special shout-out to my pastor, the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me," Mr. Obama said at the Hampton event on June 5, 2007. "He's a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country."

His remarks came less than a year before Wright's infamous "God damn America" speech grabbed the spotlight in 2008.

Fox News' Sean Hannity seized on what the Daily Caller deemed as "racially charged and at times angry" parts of the speech that hadn't been on YouTube since 2007, where Mr. Obama criticized the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and suggested something about a "racist, zero-sum society."

"What's happening down in New Orleans? Where's your dollars?" he asked the audience. "Makes no sense. Tells me the bullet hasn't been taken out. Tells me that somehow the people down in New Orleans, they don't care about it as much."

Another part of the speech that was flagged by Hannity and the Daily Caller also hadn't been seen since it was delivered in 2007 and focused on helping inner city residents find work.

"[We] need additional federal public transportation dollars loaned to the highest need in the community. We don't need to build more highways in the suburbs if we have people in the city who want to work and have no way to get into those jobs," Mr. Obama said. "We have to help connect them to the jobs that exist. We should be investing into minority owned businesses so people don't have to travel so far away."

The release of the video is a clear contrast to Mother Jones' release of a video showing Mitt Romney speaking to campaign donors and suggesting that he doesn't care about "47 percent" of the country that is dependent on the government.

While Romney's remarks have had a negative effect on his standing in the polls, Mr. Obama's detractors seem to want the same to happen to him after the release of the Hampton remarks.

The Romney campaign is denying responsibility and the Republican National Committee isn't commenting about the video. Romney had previously distanced himself from a conservative group considering an ad campaign featuring Wright.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt called the video's release "a transparent attempt to change the subject from [Romney's] comments attacking half of the American people."

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