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. Deuce

    Whats wrong Wolf? Did you get called all kinds of names at School?

    I know the Guy on 12noon Pacific. did..

    September 18, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. Deuce

    Obama Held back the Waves???

    September 18, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. "Big Changes"

    When Obama said that, was he referring to the number of states which now have double digit unemployment?

    September 18, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Kelly

    I love this guy.. he's above the fray. Let everyone else bicker and say silly things. He stays calm, cool and collected. Whether you can appreciate it or not, this is what you want from a leader.

    September 18, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. tangledthorns

    Not overriding issue?? It's not even an issue to begin with! What a fool. Seriously, how did we elect such an empty suit?!?

    September 18, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. livingbelowmeans

    We are afraid of socialism – not about race.

    September 18, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Judi from Frisco

    Race is the issue that causes the criticism to be so hate-filled. I am glad he acknowledges that it is a factor. I was afraid that the knowledge he will now be accused of playing the race card would stop him from going this far. It is what it is and even those who say race has nothing to do with it know that it, in fact, has almost everything to do with the level of hate.

    September 18, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. Greg in Tampa

    Goodbye President Obama – you have now guaranteed that you will be a one term president. You have turned out to be the most racially divisive president of the last 50 year. How could someone who ran such a brilliant campaign be so politically tone-deaf once in office?

    September 18, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. HUGO

    The Democratic spin machine is going to keep stating that it is and Obama will keep insisting that it isn't in public. I am so proud of you Barry, it makes me almost forget about foreign student loans and grants applications at Occidental.

    September 18, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. Richie

    Big O is a class act, that is for sure.

    September 18, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  11. Tamara

    Class act. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer!

    September 18, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  12. smart from nigeria

    well,i think all these stuff about obama and his administration being a communist and socialist govt. is taking the focus from the real issues of health care reform, the economy and the war in Afghanistan. Americans should show patience and respect for the job done so far even if all are not fully satisfied. don't forget America sets the example and the whole world watches.

    September 18, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. Deuce

    Obama is great! So they say. Then they try and put their words in your Mouth with "You and I can Agree"... What a load of Garbage.

    You and I will never Agree. about Obama..

    September 18, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. LacrosseMom

    Dear President Obama,

    You,sir, are a gentleman! God bless, guide & protect you & your family!

    September 18, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. imjustnoisy

    I feel so sorry that the POTUS is so naive to think he's so beyond the racism that it does not affect him.(Maybe it's the white side of him that he feels comfortable with that). I pray for his administration as there are a lot of people who are setting him up for failure,including some in his people he brought into his cabinet.

    September 18, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. Ninos

    Mr. President: please stop be so cordial with these people! I understand that you are trying to make nice, but trust the ones who support you: THESE PEOPLE WILL NOT ACCEPT YOU AS THEIR POTUS!! They want their "white" America back!

    September 18, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. Jay Baum

    If a person disagrees with some ones policies and beliefs it does not make them racist. President Obama is 50 % white. So when I am attacked as racist for vehemently disagreeing with his agenda it must be mean I do not like white people. I have noticed it is always the people who can not substaniate their arguements with facts that hurl the insults and declare you to be racist. Stop living through sound bites and start using your brain to research your point of view. Learn to stand on YOUR own knowledge and get over the childish insults.

    September 18, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Lee

    As long as he is "president" it is O.K., but what about millions of poor black people who are suffering.

    September 18, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  19. Susan

    No one threatened to KILL FDR or Reagan at the protests. No one carried loaded weapons to rallies. No one threatened (as I saw on one sign) to stop anyone who got in their way. This rhetoric is ramped up, by Beck and Hannity, and the loons are taking it to heart. Somehow Obama represents evil to them, and by God, these good Christians are going to get someone's blood for that.

    September 18, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. Paul

    "Obama acknowledged that racism plays a role in some of the criticism against him, but added that race is "not the overriding issue."

    Obama acknowledges that there is racism, but buffers it by saying it is "not the overriding issue."

    This is not Presidential. Obama is keeping the racism alive instead of taking the high road, the leadership role, the Presidential role of keeping the discussion on issues only. This is not how you lead a nation and not how you unite people behind you. This is how you divide a nation and alienate people. This is also how you drive your poll numbers straight down the toilet.

    September 18, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. ggb

    The more you throw out the race card the more divided this country will become and racial equality won't have a chance. I am not a racist but I am tired of this excuse for disagreeing. For all those who use the race card.....just remember white people voted for him or do you believe it was the black vote that elected him. The race card is old and very distracting from the problems at hand. Look at his agenda, look at the debt he is mounting up and look at the people he surrounds him with. Yes, Pelosi may see the 60's return with revolt!

    September 18, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Matt

    Two Days ago Race was not a factor. Today Race is not the Overriding issue (In normal terms that means it is a factor but only a small one) But I am sure some time next week he will believe the hype and say race is the factor. Now remember people the last time this guy spoke on race he acted stupidly.

    September 18, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. No Hillary = No Obama

    Whether Mr. Camerafly Obama knows this or not, his constant presence on the tube is diluting his effectiveness. Sooner or later people will turn a deaf ear to his jabbering and his constant tv appearances. This man just needs attention.

    September 18, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. Bill in Ct.

    They must think we're stupid. If Pres. Obama were to say, yes race is behind the rage, you can hear the pundits now, all over the TV and talk radio calling him ever name under the sun. So don't play into their game Mr. President. The Pres. can't say it but I can, HHHHHELL yeah, it's all about his race. Because if it wasn't, where were all these nut jobs over the last 8 yrs when criminal Bush and Chaney was running this country into the ground, so don't tell me race has nothing to do with it. And for all you pundits on TV who won't speak the truth, you all should be a shame of yourselves. None of you are real reporters, you're just a bunch of pundits for your party Republican or Democratic period. None of you will ever match up to the old news reporters like Rathers, Cronkite, and all the other good reporters back in the days. Bunch of CLOWNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 18, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. Sharon

    Anyone that says that the current demostrations are not about racism to a larger degree then admitted is either stupid, ignorant or literally has their head in the sand.

    The Congressman that yelled "Lie" when Obama addressed Congress was from the South AND republican.

    When was the last time any politician has been so disrespectfull to a sitting president on national TV and in the House of Congreee?

    September 18, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
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