September 16th, 2009
03:15 PM ET
11 years ago

White House: Obama doesn't think race a factor

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The White House said Wednesday President Barack Obama doesn't believe that he's being attacked by critics because of his race."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House said Wednesday President Barack Obama doesn't believe that he's being attacked by critics because of his race.

"The president does not believe that that criticism comes based on the color of his skin," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.

"We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we've made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be undertaken by both this administration and previous administrations to stabilize our financial system, to ensure viability of our domestic auto industry. I don't think that – the president does not believe that it's based on the color of his skin."

The issue was raised Tuesday by former President Jimmy Carter, who said racial politics played a role in some of the opposition Obama has faced since taking office. Carter also said that race was a factor in South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst last week during the president's address to a joint session of Congress.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Charlie Brown

    Of course. The man has class, character and integrity.

    No conservative republican comes close to having any of those qualities.

    September 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. MD

    The President will never acknowledge issues of racist behavior aimed at him. Nor should he. He has an entire country to take care of.

    The issues of calling out racist behavior are and should be left to people outside of the White House like former President Jimmy Carter.

    He was 100% right to call attention to the extreme people out there marching around with hate filled signs, with guns strapped to their legs at "health care" rallies, etc.

    No one wants to talk about the 400% increase in death threats since President Obama took office. If anyone thinks the death threats are about health care reform, unemployment or the economic crisis, they are delusional...

    We need to open our eyes...

    September 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. ggb

    Race is not an issue just beacuse we do not agree with Obama's politics or agenda. BUT, keep throwing the race card and you may see racism return full force. I am not a racist but I am a conservative who believes in personal and fiscal responsibility. That alone goes against what Obama is doing to this coutnry.

    September 16, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Lois Zimmerman

    I believe that former President Jimmy Carter is right on the money with this one. The anti-Obama stuff has been coming fast and furious since this man won the election. Rally's where people tote guns, swastikas and banners hoping for his death. If this isn't racism, I don't know what is. The "birther" movement, in which these "low life's" have continually disputed Obama's claim to the Presidency, which is of course, ludicrous. The Fox commentators, which have called Obama a racist, and I am not going to mention this jerk's name, because it has been given way too much attention already. The article in the New York Post serval months ago, which depicted Obama asw a monkey. There is an elephant in the room, the Republican, right wing, elephant, and it's racism is blatant and obvious. How sad. How disgusting. These morons should hang their heads in shame. When Wilson yelled out "You lie!" I'm surprised he just didn't say, "You lie, boy! You lie!"

    September 16, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. Larry

    As always, President Obams intelligence and generosity to his critics allows him to take the highest of roads

    But I think, though he may not say the words, he is fully aware of the reality

    The best President this country has seen for MANY MANY years

    September 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. NadineCA

    I disagree with President Obama on this subject and I believe former President Carter is correct in saying that a large amount of white people (not all white people) but a disturbing amount, will not accept a black man as President of the United States and that racism is a key factor in these attacks against President. I understand President Obama not wanting to get into a race debate at this time but he's wrong to allow this air of racism at the Tea bagger, Republican, Right Wing rallies to go unchallenged. Joe Wilson's remark had everything to do with not accepting this black President and belittling him in front of the whole world with no respect for his Presidency. That's why he's using his "you lie" outburst as a campaign slogan.

    September 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Oh my!

    Praise where praise is due. Obama is the better man here. Carter was not speaking for me and what I believe, and obviously not what Obama believes. I took away from Carter's rambling(s) that he (Carter) has deep-seated racial issues that he has not come to terms with, and his sole purpose for these ramblings was to cause exactly what happened, and the news media picked up the "ball" and ran with it, right into a brick wall. Carter needs to return his Nobel Peace Prize. I do not agree with Obama on several levels, but that does not mean that I am a racist, nor does it mean that I think Obama is a racist.

    September 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Classic, classic Obama!

    He waits and waits until the cries of racism have done their damage. Then he casually makes a statement like this so he looks so good!

    But he also got the benefit of the PR from the "racism" mob. This happened repeatedly during the campaign as his followers would slander his opponents with age-ism and sexism. Then long, long after the damage was done he would mutter some kind of peace-maker words. Smirking at us all.

    Very slick clever politician. Let's keep an eye on him.

    September 16, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Mitchell from MS

    Of course not.... BO down plays race while his goons play it up.... gee I have never seen this done before! What a load of crap!

    GOP 2010 2012

    September 16, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. Democrat for Palin Primary 2012

    Carter is right and BHO knows Cater is right. Its just that our Prez is too much of a gentleman and has the class not to state his true opinion publicly. (also otherwise, he might end up having to re-do the Philly speech for damage control). Not too many people would state their real opinion on this. Its a sensitive issue for the American public as we all know it.

    September 16, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. John Hartmann

    What would this nation do if President Obama said that he did think race was a factor. Why Republicans would have a field day about how the President played the race card. I think there is some racism involved. We've been seeing such hatred on the part of conservative people that it is now pathetic. They look so foolish. I don't think I have heard of even one Republican comment positively about how the economy seems to be making such a comeback. They are all so tight-lipped. They will give him no credit for bringing the economy of this nation back from the brink of disaster. Instead, they scream about how he is adding debt to the nation. Republican politicians need President Obama to fail because unless they have him lose his health care effort the Republicans will have no hope of making a comeback in this country.

    September 16, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Redbeard

    Is the White House being honest, or is the President just trying to rise above the fray? It's high time he stopped cutting the redneck brigade slack. Jimmy Carter and Maureen Dowd were very brave to admit what most of us have been thinking. I wish some of their chutzpah would rub off on Obama. He's just got to stop blowing kisses to the very scum who would love to see him assassinated. The more he reaches out to them, the more they snap at his cuffs. Like all bullies, they won't back down unless he punches back.

    September 16, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. annie against biased news

    We know he doesn't believe it because he and his administration and his government run biased news media are the only ones playing the race card over and over and over!

    September 16, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Lillie

    Pres. Obama is a good man.....trying hard to stay above the fray! But racism is contributing to some of the wingnuts behavior!!

    September 16, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. hadelaide

    What did you expect him to say? So he can be accused of "being a racist" if he speaks the truth? How many racists will truthfully admit that they are filled with hate?

    Pres. Obama is a better person than those being fools. Given Wilson's history about racial slurs and actions, one just have to look beyond him and his apologists (his son says my dad has no racist bone in his body).

    The light is shining brightly and we will see all of those for whom they really are.

    September 16, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. MatthewDetroit

    Its funny how ALL the democrats are such racists.
    Jimmy Carter is a racist and he accuses others.

    There is nothing about any of the disenchantment with Barack that is race motivated.
    Blame the Man not the race.
    No one is blaming him because he is black.
    We blame him because he is a lying socialist.
    His hero is Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
    He is a terrible terrible president.

    Stop using the race card Democrats... It is getting very old. Very old.

    September 16, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Jennifer, Canada

    Why then are there so many signs at these rallies showing President Obama dressed in African garb when he is an American, why the hateful comments, etc. It is very distressing to see the disrespect shown to President Obama. He inherited alot of what he has to deal with, how quickly people forget. He has done so much to change the world's attitude toward America, but the photos of these rallies and hearing the comments certainly makes one think twice about the attitudes of some of the American people. I have followed American politics for many years, and have never seen such hatred, except during the civil rights movements, and again it was white people who created all the commotion.

    September 16, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. lefty loosy

    Thank you President Obama. Keep your distance from the senile ,
    stupid Jimmy Carter.

    September 16, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Rob

    You may not think so Barry, but pretty much everyone around you and who helps prop you up is awfully quick to cry racism whenever they get a chance.

    But that pretty much defines the Dem climate right now. Say one thing, mean another.

    Obama, his administration, and the rest of the libs are doing a bang up job of setting race relations back. They're showing everyone how to REALLY play the race card.

    September 16, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Roberto

    Please remember Obama is not totally black. He is half white/half black.

    September 16, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Blutarski

    I am happy the President can rise above the race baiting comments of the former (and most ineffectual) President in history.

    September 16, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. cTX

    If you disagree with his policies go ahead but when certain members of the population have signs of him as a Nazi, illegal immigrant and a monkey–I'M SORRY MR. PRESIDENT

    September 16, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. I'll make em famous

    No..??..Maybe because he ( the POTUS ) hasn't moved down South or Texas..Or maybe he likes to keep a blind eye like his predecessors

    September 16, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. alpha_nu_916

    the tea baggers attract caucasians by the thousands . . . ohhhhhh, scary. thanks to the browning of america, these closet racist will be marginalized & disregarded.
    good night now!

    September 16, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. Blue

    He is just being nice. But, all you have to do is check out the signs and posters at these right-wing gatherings and it is racist.

    September 16, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
1 2 3 4