CENTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. - In a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this morning, Sen. Barack Obama is planning to address inflammatory statements the pastor of his Chicago church has made about race, religion and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Since last week, Obama's Democratic presidential campaign has been on the defensive over the senator's close association with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

"I'm going to be talking not just about Rev. Wright, but about the larger issue of race in the campaign, which has just ramped up over the last few weeks," Obama told reporters yesterday after a town-hall forum in this Pittsburgh suburb.

Obama reiterated that he believes the reverend's statements are "wrong and I strongly condemn them."

He added, however, that "the caricature that has been painted of him is not accurate, and part of what I'll do tomorrow is to talk a little about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church community."

Video clips emerged last week of speeches in which Wright, the pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, referred to the United States as the "U.S. of K.K.K.A." and insisted that the United States brought the Sept. 11 attacks upon itself because of its corrupt foreign policy, including its stance toward Palestinians.

Wright has also called America the "number one killer in the world," and in a 2003 sermon said: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people."

Obama's fellow Democrat from Illinois, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, said yesterday that it is "fundamentally unfair" to hold Obama responsible for Wright's speeches and sermons. In a conference call with reporters, Durbin said that Obama should be held accountable for his own beliefs. "To go beyond that," he added, "I don't think is fair."

Of today's speech, Durbin said: "It's one that he's reflected on personally with a great deal of intensity. He really wants to make a statement."

Obama's speech at the Constitution Center is by invitation only.

The Clinton camp has consistently refused to comment on the Obama-Wright situation. Its communications director, Howard Wolfson, did so again yesterday.

Although Obama was peppered with questions by reporters yesterday about Wright, the issue did not come up earlier at the town-hall forum at the Community College of Beaver County, attended by about 1,800 people. During his speech, the senator concentrated on detailing his views on Iraq, health care, higher education and the economy.

He was also asked by an audience member to talk about his stance on abortion, to which he replied that on a fundamental level, he believes abortion is tragic. But Obama said he also believes that the person best equipped to make that decision is the woman facing the choice.

"I believe that women don't make these decisions lightly," he said to a round of applause. ". . . But what I also believe is that we can find common ground in trying to discourage unwanted pregnancies, and encourage adoption when possible."

Still, the Wright controversy was on the minds of some of his staunchest supporters in the audience.

William Alston, 57, a retired police chief, said he believed Wright's statements were "brash and arrogant," but he does not believe that Obama will be hurt by them in the long run.

Alston, a self-described "lifelong Democrat," pointed out that it is possible to belong to a church or religion and not agree with all the statements that its leaders make. Some Catholics, he said, believe that women should be ordained despite the fact that the church does not.

The public, he believes, will come to the same realization.