In his first major public address since a cancer crisis, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said that presidential candidate Barack Obama is the “hope of the entire world” that the U.S. will change for the better. The 74-year-old Farrakhan, former leader of the black Muslim group, never endorsed Obama outright, but spent much of his nearly two-hour speech Sunday to an estimated crowd of 20,000 people praising the Illinois senator.

“This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better,” he said. “This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama’s audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed.”

Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion’s founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father.

In tonight’s debate this issue came up:

“Obama also sought to distance himself from an endorsement from the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Chicago-based minister who has made numerous anti-Semitic comments in the past.

Obama said he hadn’t sought the endorsement, and that he had denounced the remarks.

Clinton interjected at one point, saying that in her initial Senate campaign in New York in 2000, she was supported by a group with virulent anti-Semitic views.”

I rejected it, and said it would not be anything I would be comfortable with.” She said rejecting support was different than denouncing it, an obvious jab at Obama.

He responded by saying he didn’t see the difference, since Farrakhan hadn’t done anything except declare his support. But given Clinton’s comments, he said, “I happily concede the point and I would reject and denounce.”

It took a few days but Barack Obama finally denounced this ‘endorsement.’

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