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. Liberal4Obama

    President Obama is always a classy guy but the GOP has no shame, their criticisms are baseless, for them to say they care about seniors and medicare is like for the Fox in the henhouse to say he cares about the hens, total hypocrisy.

    September 18, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  2. stormerF

    I am so sick of the Democrats playing the race card every time someone disagrees with Obama. I for one will be glad if we never have another Black president,ever.

    September 18, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. Enough

    Why is Obama afraid to go on #1 rated FOX? If he really wants to get his point across for healthcare, he needs to hit the largest audience. Instead he keeps on choosing to go on everything but FOX. Guess he's not going to help his cause if he is only going to shows that are in the tank for him. Is he just afraid to face tough questions without his teleprompter or does he knows it's a bad plan?

    September 18, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. Bridgette

    These racisist want him to go their, but, that is what I love about this President he won't give it too em. And it is pissing them off because they can't say he is playing the race card.

    September 18, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  5. Jasaah

    Mr. President, don't let any one put words in your mouth because they know better and want to hear from you in order to inflame the situation.They were borned and grew up in the country, so they know exactly what is going on with these calling names, etc. etc. We voted for you and know why we did it. Just keep on doing your job for the American people as you promised. God bless you and your family, and thanks very much for your foreign policy.

    September 18, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  6. fogcityguy

    I agree with the president, he is not the first democrat to be called a communist or socialist. FDR was certainly named names...but if I look at the history, its hard to argue FDR was perhaps the best president we ever had. And if President Obama can do anything like that, we will be blessed.

    September 18, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  7. Mark

    Where are all the Democrats now telling Obama he's wrong and that race is the driving force of the protests? Or would that make you racist for disagreeing with him?
    Hmmm...

    September 18, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  8. Jay Baum

    Equality is when a person can disagree with a person and no one mentions race. To point out race as a factor is a form of racism. There will always be conflicts between ideas. Stop perpetuating hate and racism by always crying wolf.

    September 18, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. Dylan Bennett

    Keep up the good work President Obama.

    September 18, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  10. Terrance Thompson

    nice answer.

    September 18, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  11. lynne

    President Obama is very diplomatic.

    September 18, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. dinah

    I'm not sure it' s all race. The Republicans would do anything to defeat him. If using race does it they will use that. Destroying a Democratic president has to be a big part of it.

    September 18, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. GGG

    I hope someone in one of these liberal media interviews has the courage to ask President the tough questions about his healthcare plan, his immigration reform plan, his unconfirmed and controversial Czars. If this turns into another Obama lovefest, I'll lose all respect for the news media.

    September 18, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. beverly

    Thank you Mr. President. I do disagree on some issues. Being called a racist for that is insulting.

    September 18, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. Nomoreteabaggers

    President Obama cannot make a big deal out of it – he cannot let the racists bother him and get in the way of progress? But, during the campaign we saw how the Republicans behaved at those Palin rallies, and we watch the teabaggers and the birthers take every opportunity to try to deligitimize our president; so, we can see for ourselves that his race is an issue, for those who refuse to move into this century.

    September 18, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    The democrats are the people complaining about racism. The democrats are making racean issue. I am a republican. I did not vote for Obama. I do not agree with Obama or what he is doing. However I could care less what race he is. Every republican I talk to feels the same way. It is democrats that have and create the issue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 18, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  17. michael wiederholt

    For me it's not a race issue, in fact it's about President Obama's lies. He said no new taxes, He also said he was going to change. Seems to me the same old thing more government corruption. i am not a democrat or republician in fact I am an american that believes in the US Constitution. All laws should go though a process of congress as a bill that is written by congress and ratiifed by congress. No one should have czars that is what your cabinet is for Mr. President.

    September 18, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  18. michael rae

    who cares, the working man and women have little chance anymore in america.

    September 18, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  19. Shelly

    I love an eternal optimist, but I think the POTUS is living in a real fantasy world if he thinks race in not the driving force behind the right wing nonsense we've had to tolerate over the past several months. Keep that positive attitude, but watch your back.

    September 18, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  20. Nice

    leave race out please. Sure racism exists but let's not go to the extreme.

    September 18, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  21. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    How can a guy be so right all the time? But more of the intensity is because he's black, anyone who denies that hasn't mingled with his neighbor's (or doesn't live in rural America like I do). Remember what Jackie Robinson had to endure when he broke barriers.

    September 18, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  22. kaycantey

    It is not racism but Republicanism.

    September 18, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. Dragonfly

    Our president has a generous heart. While he's right about the venom flung at Roosevelt – unlike previous presidents, he's actually well versed in American history – it's hard not to see a different strain of anger aimed at Mr. Obama. While it's coming from a small portion of society, it's the portion that sometimes settles its grudges with a rifle, as evidenced the heinous murder of the security officer at the Holocaust Museum earlier this year.

    September 18, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. Christi from Houston

    You, Obama, are no FDR.

    September 18, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  25. cramit

    Yes it is , obama looks at everything as race and racism , go back and look at his run to the prez , come on , someone be honest.

    September 18, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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