Obama: I'm a 'stalwart friend' of Israel, its security is 'sacrosanct'
Presidential hopeful denounces Farrakhan endorsement, calls anti-Semitic remarks 'unacceptable.'
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday stressed his "stalwart" support for Israel and his ties to American Jews, during a presidential debate with rival candidate Hillary Clinton.
During the debate, Mediator Tim Russert pressed Obama on the endorsement he got from the anti-Semitic African-American leader Louis Farrakhan.
Obama said: "I have been very clear in my denunciations of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I did not solicit this support."
Obama leveled criticism on Farrakhan's anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, calling them "unacceptable and reprehensible."
He added that has always been "a stalwart friend of Israel's" and said he considers Israel to be one of the U.S.' "most important allies in the region [Mideast]."
"I think that their security is sacrosanct," he added.
In response to Obama's remarks, Clinton argued that there was a difference between denunciation and rejection of the endorsement.
"You asked specifically if he [Obama] would reject it [the endorsement] and there's a difference between denouncing and rejecting," she said.
"If the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce', then I'm happy to concede the point and I would reject and denounce [Farrakhan]" Obama responded.
Obama spoke about this same issue a few days ago as he was meeting a group of Jewish activists in Cleveland.
Some who attended the event and do not belong to his camp said he was very convincing.
"At his best," one of them said.
But in the debate he was even better and was able to score again on the same topic, elaborating on something of great importance to Jewish liberals.
Obama, talking about Farrakhan - and about anti-Semitism among African-Americans, which he also denounced in his speech on Martin Luther King Day - touched a sensitive nerve when he was talking about one possibility that's inherent to his candidacy: the chance to restore the alliance between blacks and Jews.