In May, Obama gave a talk at Temple B'nai Torah in Boca Raton. According to this (adulatory) account, he told the congregants: "I don't want to get in to the 'some of my best friends are Jewish' trap, because it's terribly demeaning. But I will tell you this: when I first ran [unsuccessfully] for Congress against Bobby Rush, the main argument against me was that I was too close to the Jewish community!"
Earlier, Obama said, "The other irony in this whole process is that in my early political life in Chicago, one of the raps against me in the black community is that I was too close to the Jews. When I ran against Bobby Rush [for Congress], the perception was that I was Hyde Park, I'm University of Chicago, I've got all these Jewish friends. When I started organizing, the two fellow organizers in Chicago were Jews, and I was attacked for associating with them."
The latter version seems a lot more plausible [though too close, rhetorically, to the "some of my best friends are Jewish" shtick" he wisely later disavows; it would, however, help explain why he felt he needed Rev. Wright on his side] than the claim that the "main issue" in the Obama vs. Rush race was Obama's closeness to the Jewish community. Indeed, I can't find any on-line references to such a controversy in either the mainstream or "ethnic" media. But if any readers who follow Chicago politics know of any relevant facts, please post below.
And by the way, I've never associated either the University of Chicago or Hyde Park as being especially "Jewish" venues. Is there some contrary perception in Chicago?
UPDATE: A reader points me to the recent Obama profile in the New Yorker:
A South Side operator named Al Kindle, a large man with a booming voice, was a field operator for Obama’s race against Rush. He had helped elect Harold Washington, and he saw Obama’s congressional campaign from the street level. We met one evening at Calypso Café, a Caribbean restaurant that Obama has said is his favorite place to eat in Hyde Park, and Kindle described some of the worst moments in the campaign. "The accusations were that Obama was sent here and owned by the Jews," Kindle said. "That he was here to steal the black vote and steal black land and that he was represented by the—as they were called—'the white man.' And that Obama wasn't black enough and didn't know the black experience, the black community.