May 1, 2008 / 9:51 PM / 11 years ago

Obama's Letterman list avoids pastor scandal

Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives for an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman" in New York, April 9, 2007. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama poked fun at himself on the Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday but showed his humor has its limits by avoiding any mention of his controversial former pastor.

The Democratic senator from Illinois who would be America’s first black president recorded a “Surprising Facts About Barack Obama” Top 10 list via satellite while campaigning in South Bend, Indiana.

But the list made no reference to what has dominated campaign coverage of him in recent days — the racially charged rhetoric from his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who the senator has since disavowed.

Instead he made a joke about the other issue which has dogged his campaign recently — that he might be “elitist,” a characterization critics have aimed at him after he said small-town Americans “cling” to guns and religion.

At No. 6 on his list was “Earlier today I bowled a 39,” a reference to how badly Obama is at one of working-class America’s pastimes — bowling.

The rest of the list avoided any sniff of controversy, such as, “When I tell my kids to clean their room, I finish with, ‘I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message.’”

Another was “This has nothing to do with the Top Ten, but what the heck is up with Paula Abdul?” — a reference to the odd behavior of the “American Idol” judge during Tuesday’s broadcast.

The No. 1 surprising fact about Obama was “I have not slept since October.”

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