Obama: I'm not opposed because of race
August 28th, 2013
08:26 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama: I'm not opposed because of race

Washington (CNN) - President Obama echoed past statements in a Wednesday interview with PBS' "Newshour," telling the show's anchors that Republican opposition to his agenda isn't motivated by the color of his skin.

"It doesn't have to do with race in particular," Obama said. "It has to do with an effort to make sure people who might otherwise challenge the existing ways that things work are divided."

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Amid celebrations across the country commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the comments place the focus back on bridging the partisan divide – not necessarily a racial one.

In the interview with PBS anchors Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, the president said the GOP's attempts to obstruct his policies stem from their ideological opposition to government-led reforms. Obama insisted his partisan foes dole out bitter pills of rhetorical bluster in equal doses across racial lines.

"It's directed at Bill Clinton or Nancy Pelosi just as much as its directed at me," the president said.

Clinton struck a similar tone in his remark earlier in the day. While delivering his speech paying tribute to the thousands who marched down Constitution Avenue in 1963, Clinton railed against red-and-blue colored Maginot Lines impeding the country's progress.

"Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock," Clinton said. "It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back."

But both remarks from Obama and Clinton come in a year very much tinted by a national discourse on race. The president, notably, commented on the Trayvon Martin trial after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder, telling reporters in late July, "Trayvon Martin could have been me."

Other high-profile politicians have garnered attention by accusing some in the Republican Party of basing their opposition to the president on his being black.

In a radio interview with a Las Vegas-based NPR affiliate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, created a miniature maelstrom when he wondered aloud if the GOP's unwillingness to cooperate with the President was "based on substance and not the fact that he's an African American."

Former Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, made similar waves in January, when he told NBC's "Meet the Press" he, too, suspected some within the more conservative wing of the Republican Party harbor racist beliefs.

"There's also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party," Powell said. "They still sort of look down on minorities."

Filed under: Colin Powell • Nancy Pelosi • Political • Politics • President Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    "There is neither Jew nor Greek...male nor female:..YE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS "Abraham's seed"
    (Galatians 3: 28-29) with the same inheritance (1st Peter 1: 4)returning to 'dust' Genesis 3: 19 ,then to heaven(smile)

    August 28, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Diridi

    Well, Obama, do not worry about these, we all know you are doing EXCELLENT JOB. GOP is doomed for a Decade or two.

    August 28, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. GurgyL

    Do you know that this nation loves you because you are doing the best job. Proven fact in November Election–340/102 electoral votes. Proof.

    August 28, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Aaron dickerson

    No more than this present time blacks look at whites the black community is full of hate if ur white and listen to anything other than rap the majority of black community hate u

    August 28, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  5. Liz the First

    Oh, honey, you are waaaay too kind to these haters. they are punishing the country for daring to put a black man in the white house! do you honestly think they'd accuse you of not even being a natural born American and a Christian if you were white? yes, they hate everything you're trying to do because it supports the middle-class and poor, but the pure vitriol with which they hate stems from mindless bigotry. you need to get way tougher with these traitors. if you are somewhat lacking in the cojones dept, which i doubt, may i suggest you borrow Hillary's?

    August 28, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. ED1

    You have created a divided class you are not even 1% of what King stood for or for that fact is now.

    August 28, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  7. What a Crock

    Never disliked Obama for his skin color, just his policies. If we ever get a qualified President who does a good job, I don't think race will be an issue.

    August 28, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  8. bcrunner

    Yeah...right!! Tell that to someone who will believe it Mr. President! I believe you are oppose by at least 80% of those who oppose you because of your race!!

    August 29, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  9. Dvet

    The republican party is mostly klan and racist bigots. Thats where all the judges, lawyers, and cops from the civil rights era are. its no secret, look and listen at them.

    August 29, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  10. stan j

    Now can the anchors on MSNBC please "Shut Up"!!!

    August 29, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  11. Marie MD

    Mr. President, love you, love your family even your dogs but if you think that the color of your skin is not what is motivating these rethugs/teatrolls you are mistaken.
    Racism is alive and well in the US 50 years after the March in 1963. Some things have gotten better but the teatrolls and the Koch brothers, among others, have woken the sleeping giant.
    On the other hand, I see progress because we are not going to stand in the shadows anymore and white, Blacks, Latinos, gays, women, seniors, veterans, will prevail against those who want to take us back to the jim crow days.

    August 29, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  12. king

    Obama needs to be realistic, their are people especially in the tea party ranks, that would love to see this country go down to discredit his presidency. the thought of Obama being one of the greatest presidents in America's history angers some folks so bad that they would take any means necessary to undermined his illegitimacy, can some one say birtherism. they're trying everything in the books to stop his agenda: such as looking in every corner of our country of more than a quarter billion people to find any kind of black on white crimes to stoke racist mentality; when the facts shows that lightening is liable to strike a person than a black person to commit homicide on a white person, but leave it to the fox news of the world, black folks are committing crimes against white folks all over the country and their refusal to say that 80 percent of killings against white folks are committed by other white folks, while 00000.1 are committed by blacks.

    August 29, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |