US President Barack Obama has distanced himself from ex-president Jimmy Carter's claim that racism was fuelling protests against the administration's key healthcare reforms. His spokesman said that criticisms were not based on his skin colour.
AFP - US President Barack Obama does not believe the current tide of fury rocking US politics has anything to do with the color of his skin, the White House said Wednesday.
Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs moved to calm temperatures after ex-president Jimmy Carter claimed that racism was driving anti-Obama demonstrations and rhetoric on the president's health care reform plans and spending policy.
"The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin," Gibbs said.
"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 this administration," amid the economic crisis.
In an interview with NBC on Tuesday, Carter, who was once governor of Georgia in the US deep south, said much of the criticism leveled at Obama, America's first black president, was the result of racism.
"I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he's African-American," Carter, 84, told NBC television.
"I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way," Carter added.
"But that racism inclination still exists, and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but across the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."
"It is an abominable circumstance, and grieves me and concerns me deeply," added Carter.
Carter's remarks followed a week in which a Republican lawmaker Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" at the US president during a speech, and thousands protested against Obama administration policies in Washington.
A succession of Democratic lawmakers and political columnists have pointed to the trends -- the heckling, the gun-toting, the preachers leading congregations in prayers that Obama will die -- and warned they are fostering a dangerous climate.
Date created : 2009-09-17