*CNN is reporting that President Obama spoke to Shirley Sherrod on the phone moments ago.
The network says its news crew was with the ousted Agriculture Department official when the call came shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST, but Sherrod asked that cameras not film the conversation, according to anchor Ali Velshi.
Obama’s personal outreach comes several hours after Sherrod appeared on all three network morning news shows, as well as CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to discuss the fallout from an edited videotape that led to her forced resignation – and then to two public apologies Wednesday from the Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the White House, via Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
When asked this morning if she feels the president should also apologize, Sherrod said she would rather have a conversation with Obama about race, and about the needs of rural America.
“I’d like to talk to him a little bit about the experience of people like me, people at the grass roots level, people who live out there in rural America, people who live in the south,” she told “Today’s” Meredith Vieira. “I know he does not have that kind of experience. Let me help him a little bit with how we think, how we live, and the things that are happening.”
In the meantime, the office released a statement saying the president reached Sherrod by phone at 12:35 p.m. During the seven minute conversation, Obama apologized for the events of the last several days, and emphasized that Vilsack was sincere in his apology and his efforts to rid the USDA of discrimination.
Obama also expressed that this “misfortune” presents a unique opportunity for Sherrod to work even moreso on behalf of those in need.
The White House daily press briefing will take place at 1:30 p.m. today, where Gibbs is sure to provide further details about the phone call.
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