A better example might be how Bob Jones University was treated in 2000 when deciding if character issues like Reverend Wright are important. Back in 2000, even Bill Bradley thouught Republicans speaking at Bob Jones University was an issue:
Former Senator Bill Bradley was just getting into a part of his stump speech today where he usually blasts Vice President Al Gore, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, when he veered instead into criticizing a Republican candidate, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas.
In a speech before supporters here, Mr. Bradley chided Mr. Bush for addressing more than 5,000 students at Bob Jones University, a bastion of Christian conservatism in South Carolina.
Noting that the college had lost its tax-exempt status in the 1970′s because it did not allow interracial dating, Mr. Bradley said:
’’We had to fight to deny tax-exempt status to Bob Jones University unless it changed that policy. And yet the Republican candidate for president yesterday goes to Bob Jones University to make a speech about what conservatism is in this county. Well, ladies and gentleman, that is what conservatism is, Bob Jones University, and it should be rejected.’’
Of course, Bill Bradley feels differently about using Rev. Wright as a campaign issue:
ESTRICH: Senator Bradley, Bill, I’m getting a lot of e-mails from conservatives, because I wrote a really nice column about Barack Obama’s speech on race and I have been inundated with e-mails from conservatives saying to me, look, here’s the guy who, when he was in Chicago, went after Trent Lott for saying something nice about Strom Thurman who had done bad things many years ago. He wanted Lott’s head; he called for the Republicans to kill Trent Lott. Why are people like you and I applying a double standard, here? Why aren’t we calling for Barack Obama’s head for being associated with Minister Farrakhan and then with Reverend Wright? I mean, what’s the answer to those folks?
BRADLEY: Well, I think the answer is because Reverend Wright didn’t run for president and win four states and wasn’t a sitting United States senator. I mean, that’s the difference.
I mean, you know, the question that Barack raised I think is a really legitimate question. I boil it down to when was the last time you talked about race with somebody of another race and had a very candid conversation about black anger and white resentment? And, to me, that’s really what he offered the other day. And as I heard him speak, I thought about the speeches that I have made over the years about race in America.
And in one in particular, in which I recall I had an aunt who used derogatory racial terms. It hurt me deeply. And I talked about that in the speech at one point, just like I talked about his grandmother. And I finished the speech, and at that time I had a black press secretary, and he came up to me and he said, you know, I have an aunt like that, too. Meaning that what goes on in black households and white households has to be brought out and a dialogue take place. And I think that’s what he asked us to do.
The second thing he asked us to do is to not go with the easy racial arguments or stereotypes and divert from attention on those things which affect all Americans, such as the need for healthcare, the need for public schools to be great, the need for everybody who has ability to have a chance to go to college and the need to, if you work 40 years, to have a secure pension.