September 18th, 2009
06:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama: Race not 'overriding issue' in criticism

President Obama’s full interview will air on State of the Union this Sunday, starting at 9 am ET.
President Obama’s full interview will air on State of the Union this Sunday, starting at 9 am ET.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Harsh rhetoric flung in his direction is no different than that hurled at other presidents who tried to make major changes during their administrations, President Barack Obama said Friday.

In an interview with CNN's John King airing on "State of the Union with John King" this Sunday, Obama acknowledged that racism plays a role in some of the criticism against him, but added that race is "not the overriding issue."

"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here," he said. "I think there are people who are anti-government. I think there's been a long-standing debate in this country that is usually that much more fierce during times of transition, or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes.

"I mean, things that were said about FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) were pretty similar to things that were said about me. 'He's a communist, he's a socialist.' Things that were said about Ronald Reagan when he was trying to reverse some of the New Deal programs, you know, were pretty vicious as well."

Watch President Obama's full interview with John King this Sunday on State of the Union, starting at 9 am ET.

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Ken Oberg

    I find all the references to FDR interesting. His programs were terrible ideas at the outset and have played out that way. I'm assuming Obama refers to FDR as someone with 'similar' ideas and to Reagan as a counterpoint. Comparing yourself to FDR is will not draw positive conclusions.

    September 18, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  2. Elliot

    No matter what he says or what he does the right will accuse Obama of playing the race card.

    September 18, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    What is with this guy? Get over yourself! The reason people "hate" health care reform is that it will be either a fast or slow take over of the health care system by government. American's value the freedom to choose, and a public health care will quickly or slowly run competition out of the market. Plus we "hate" how poorly managed, inefficient, over beuracerized?! ALL government ran entities end up. Plus, we "hate" the idea of our taxes going up to pay for more hand outs. Remember this whole push is only to cover about 10% of the population who want and do not have insurance $900 billion is a lot for 10% of the population! It's not race. Its hatred of the liberals stupid ideas.

    September 18, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  4. The Republic

    I would have to say that Obama's maturity on this racism deal is impressive. I cant stand his policies or his belief system PERIOD. But, his ability to not be a panzie like Sharpton, and "Jesse the hypocrit Jackson" is impressive.

    He better not keep this up. It was much easier disliking the enemy.

    September 18, 2009 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. Stef

    Kudos to Obama for not throwing down the race card like many liberals, ie. Jimmy "One Term" Carter, who use it as a way to try to get away with ramming their liberal agenda down America's throat without scrutiny. And all that whining about "respect the office of the presidency" coming from those who said aweful things about previous presidents... Hello pot, meet kettle.

    September 18, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  6. Michael

    This is hypocrisy. You can go on to Google today and find over 100 images of Bush made to look like Hitler. If that is "Free Speech" then so is ANYTHING on Obama. Democrats can dish but they cannot take it.

    September 18, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. RC

    I'm glad that president Obama acknowledges not every single shout or comment is about race. That card is "well" overplayed. Get over it....everyone! Can we, as a country, not move forward......ever? Really?

    I would like to see our president improve our "government officials." We need morale congressmen running our country. It's almost impossible to pick up the paper these days and not be informed that yet another government official has embarassed his wife, family, and us, as a country, over the power, greed, and ego they so desperately seek.

    Our government appears to be corrupt. So why should we give them more power, such as government ran health care reform?

    Is there a politician out there who is really for our people and not for power or greed? If there is, why don't we hear about them? What good are "you" doing for our country that we should take pride in?

    September 18, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. smart Kid Grant

    I just want to say this, remember, FDR ran on a platform of less gov't as opposed to Hoover's Big gov't.

    September 18, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  9. Joseph

    What a joke of an interview. Could you have at least set up the interview with somebody who wouldn't stick to the script and ask you some questions that were hard to answer?
    This moderate is getting tired of your scripted garbage. Lose the teleprompter, stop buring cash, and get REAL!

    September 18, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  10. John

    Racism is certainly not a overriding issue, but racism is an undercurrent, which is a contributor to the out of control anger and hatred directed at President Obama, from opponents on the right.

    I was no fan of George W Bush, but I wasn't opposed to EVERYTHING President Bush did.

    How can EVERYTHING President Obama proposes, be wrong, without hatred and anger directed at the person, and that hatred & anger is driven by racism.

    I find more racism in the lack of willingnes of the GOP leadership to tone down the hateful rhetoric directed at President Obama. Something needs to be done to improve the current situation, before a nut on the Right actually buys into all this hate-driven hype, and does something stupid and reckless.

    September 18, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  11. Noelle

    We can examine this "issue" until we're blue in the face....what a waste of time...now we're into semantics? There is no side-stepping the issue at hand....I agree with Jimmy Carter AND Bill Cosby.

    September 18, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. www.twitter.com/whybs

    Finally, we have a president that frustrated wingnuts can't even land a good blow!

    Another sign of greatness is his adeptness at acknowledging & handling faux pas as evident by his handling of the Crowley-Gates incidence.

    His biggest weakness is his choice of beer! Frankly, it's pathetic!

    The wingnuts won't even know what will hit them! :)

    Just watch!

    - from someone who voted for Reagan & I'm not black.

    September 18, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. Bill Obama

    This adminstration needs to stop using the race issue when Obama wants something passed. I didn't vote for this unexperience, unknown candidate. Remember White folks who stick to their religion andguns put Obama in the White House . Obama owes his soul to us white folks.
    Putting Obama in the White House was a message sent to Capitol Hall that they are not listing to the voters. Congress has gone back to their old ways.
    Wilson Spoke for the voters/taxpayers when Obama spoke to the Congress about healthcare.
    Carter needs to put a bar of soap in his mouth.

    September 18, 2009 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  14. jules sand-perkins

    The extent to which Obama wants "to spread the wealth around" moves much further toward a completely socialistic economic system than FDR's Social Security did because the old people who won the survival lottery and lived long enough to collect a pension HAD PAID INTO IT FOR MANY DECADES. Those who benefit from later wealth-spreading programs have often contributed nothing to society.
    Building a bridge or public school is needed by society, and taxation is appropriate in such cases.
    Taxation to "spread the wealth around" is socialism according to Marx's vision, which had as its goal pure communism.
    The President can not "call out" those who state facts when calling him a socialist or a communist: the American citizens who are speaking about him that way are stating facts and trying to preserve the capitalistic economic system that made America great.

    September 19, 2009 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  15. jules sand-perkins

    The President is correct in stating that race is not the overriding issue in opposition to his policies, but I am sure that he, Mrs. Obama, and their daughters encounter it every day.
    As a white man–and an old one at that, with hair white and natural–I encounter racism every day from African-Americans who fail to realize how their bitter hatred hurts them istead of hurting white people.
    It is dignified and gracious of the President not to blame his opposition on racism.
    It would show wisdom if other African-Americans took his example and stopped blaming opposition to White House policies on a card that is not in play.

    September 19, 2009 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  16. Douglas Davis

    I know you implied some African Americans with your comment and as a young emotionally mature Black guy without a race chip on my shoulder, I just wanted to underscore, some.

    September 19, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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