Carter says race is issue for some Obama opponents

September 16, 2009

Some of President Barack Obama’s more demonstrative opponents list any number of reasons why they oppose him and why they’re angry — from the bank bailout, to his plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, the direction the country is heading and the ballooning U.S. deficit. But former President Jimmy Carter thinks a lot of the opposition is really about Obama’s race.


“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said in an NBC interview on Tuesday.

Here’s what the Georgia Democrat had to say:
“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Click here for the NBC video.

Disputes over race are not unheard of in U.S. presidential politics. Click here for a list of some of them.

Click here for more Reuters Political News.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Carter at a baseball game in Atlanta in June)


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Carter was a lame president and is still lame. I disagree with the policies of Obama, does that make me a racist? I think Obama got elected because people wanted a change, but politics is the same old stuff. I see no difference between Cheney, Pelosi, or Reid. I admire Obama the man, but dislike all these bailouts. I still have not heard any liberal admit that Barney Frank was the main cause of the collapse of the economy.

Posted by Robert Gardner | Report as abusive

Carter is an idiot. Look this country is way past this issue or at least it does not apply here at this time. Did you hear that Obama was actually elected! Only an idiot with no life or sence of where we are as a nation would make that statement

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

Anyone that has been around a while and is from the south knows that the Republican Party now consists mainly of what 50 years ago called the Dixiecrats. The south was solidly democratic then as it is solidly Republican now. The switch from one party to the other came because the Democratic Party embraced Integration, Civil and Voting Rights for Blacks and other minorities. The Dixiecrats found this intolerable and many of them switched parties. Senator Strom Thurmond being the most prominent

We now see this ugliness rear its head again, thinly veiled as opposition to policies. the lack of civility by the Republicans, the hideous distortions of this extremely civil President’s policies or the absence of their speaking out against inflammatory signs and even weapons being carried to Presidential events, their embrace of reactionary stances rather than conservative ones are very familiar to men like President Carter and myself.

I am very Happy that President Carter has had the decency to speak out against this for what it is, a pure and unadulterated evil that should be expunged from the body politic no matter what flimsy disguise it tries to hide behind.

Posted by gigawit | Report as abusive

I never saw a black person until 1959, the day I joined the military . Everyone in the military is treated equally. Outside the military, blacks are looked upon as not being equal to whites. That’s just the way it is.

Posted by R. D. Moore | Report as abusive

It’s becoming more difficult to tell if this is just a lot of chatter or a real issue. It seems that people are becoming a lot more polarized about various figures – I know folks that foamed at the mouth about G.W. Bush; others about Hillary Clinton. And now of course, lots of foam spewing about Barack Obama. We need to get back to an intelligent, well-informed, rational discourse on the issues. Otherwise it’s all noise and no signal.

Posted by TEG | Report as abusive

Simple, Jimmy Carter said what Obama can’t. I agree with Jimmy Carter and so does Obama.

Posted by Eleanor | Report as abusive

Racial predjudice is not one sided but for now it is being provoked from one side. Thank GOD it is an individual choice and we all don’t think the same. Live free, don’t hate, Intergrate.

Posted by Eleanor | Report as abusive


Angelina. Please sister re-read President carter’s statements. He said and I quote “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president”

He said MANY not ALL Americans. President Obama was elected with about 60 million votes, which means the other 165 million registered voters did not vote for him. And before you jump on my case, I am not saying all those who didn’t vote did do so because of Obama – just to indicate that there is a large number that did not.

It is obvious to any rational person that Carter was referring to a certain segment of the population, and would NEVER call all those that oppose Obama’s policies racists. It is indisputable fact that a large segment of the American population has strong and deep seated racism.

There are so many people on both the right and the left that disagree with some or all of Obama’s policies. Are they all racists? Of course not, that would be preposterous. But the fact remains; there are millions of white Americans that cannot stand the thought of an African American president and you know it too.

So people please read what President Carter said before you vilify him. Don’t shoot the messenger, listen to the message.

Do you people think it is easy for Carter? No, the man and his family are paying a heavy price for his saying what is true. Keeping quiet and staying out of trouble is the easiest and safest thing to do, but not for people of faith and integrity like President Carter. I for one am glad we have people like him.

Posted by AaronBurr | Report as abusive

FINALLY! Obama clears the air of another fumbling attempt by Carter to make peace (sarcasm intended). President Obama was not my choice for President but, he is MY PRESIDENT now and I have the right to disagree with him whether he be black or white. What part of that does Jimmy Carter not get?

Posted by Chiva | Report as abusive

Yes, yes, and yes. But President Obama has no choice. The moment he mentions race, everything devolves to race. It is up to the clear-sighted among us, like former president Carter, to keep the rest of us aware that race IS still an issue and that it IS a card being played by some. As with feminism, the world has not yet reached a state of perfection. We’re making progress, by gum, but we’re not there yet. Bless and heed the watchdogs. They let us know that there’s still someone prowling the grounds.

Posted by Brett Hardman | Report as abusive

I am sick and tired of every time someone disagrees with Obama that its “a racial issue.” He was voted in, for God’s sake, even knowing what his skin color WAS!!

Every time some white police officer shoots some -insert any color- person, it is racially motivated. Just because someone disagrees with “you,” doesn’t mean it is a racial issue …

I am not white: and I am sick of the Race Card being played so frequently!

Save that card for when it is legitimately demonstrated – if you (meaning racially-not-white) overuse it, it will become so blase that no one will even listen any more! Ever heard of “crying wolf?”

Just because someone disagrees with you – does not mean it is because of your skin – it may be because of your opinion, folks! Smarten up a little here!!

Posted by Traci in Texas | Report as abusive

Silencing racism is only a sign of how the problem is… and still will be…until the correct form of education, understanding and communication is in place.

Posted by 2010 | Report as abusive

I am white and I would prefer Alan Keys as President of the United States over and above Barack Obama. Why? Alan Keys has America’s best interest at heart and Barack Obama does not.

Oh, Alan Keys is blacker than Barack Obama! In my opinion, Alan Keys is the best man for the job! Did I say that I am “white”?

Where’s the Racism? Jimmy Carter is over the hill and out of touch with reality! 2

Posted by american121 | Report as abusive

Aside from the obvious fringe elements of society, the only racists I have seen are those who only see the color of the President’s (Jimmy Carter and many mainstream pundits/commentators/”reporters”). When I stood up for Bill Clinton’s right to privacy, was I being a white-supremacist?

Posted by Sustainablehome | Report as abusive

If what President Carter said it true and you reason that out to a logical conclusion, then well, I can see why Obama disagrees with him because should Obama’s Presidency fail as Carter’s did then voters might all the more think race when they vote. I really think it is the issues, not race. Obama is the most left of all the voters in the Senate and Americans are turned off by a Socialist agenda. Trust but verify.

Posted by Jimmy | Report as abusive

I was about 18 and on my own when Carter was in office. It was a bad time for this country and I’ll never forget it. He was useless to me then as he is now. I would like more than just about anything to be able to root for our President Obama, and for one reason, because he is Bi-racial and this should bring us together even more. We’ve come a long way in our Great Country but I’m sorry I can’t agree with much of anything Mr. Obama stands for. The fact that he is half Black certainly doesn’t have a part of any of my disagreement with him. Mr. Carter should retire his opinions as he shows what a ridiculous person he is and we will someday remember him for his silly remarks.

Posted by VS N | Report as abusive

Carter hit the nail on the head. For months, people I know, black and white, have sensed the racism behind some of the conservative responses to Obama. Listening to the commentaries of Limbaugh, Beck, Savage et al. you can find veiled racism hidden behind political statements.Quote “These people have hijacked our country we need to get it back”, “These people only want their welfare and Obama is going to make sure they get it without having to work” and “Puff the Magic Negro” what is that?
For more blatant signs of racism view the videos of the Tea Parties and a popular sign shows Obama dressed as an African chief with a bone in his nose. How about the patriots showing up locked and loaded. Are they exercising their right to bear arms or are they presenting a not so veiled threat to the President.

Posted by Ghandigee | Report as abusive

As many of you comment about the negativity of President Carter’s comments…I for one commend him because he is dead on with his opinion…I work in an environment where I hear conversations everyday…especially those concerning politics and there are so many based on Obama’s race and prefaced on nothing else….I don’t agree with all of his decisions…but his race is still the only factor for some…and it will take many more generations for racism to die and probably the discovery of why so many possess that genetic flaw…

Posted by martimal | Report as abusive

His most vile opponents have hated him from the beginning and use whatever talk-radio phrase they hear to justify their hatred, whether it’s socialist, fascist, Muslim, terrorist, “where’s the birth certificate” or whatever. They can’t even define socialism or fascism. The racist signs and postings are proof enough.

Posted by CliffDogg | Report as abusive

I know the president needed to make that response. Carter was right on the money with respect to him saying “many”. Racism is still here. He called it fairly, but probaly too nuanced for many, That being said, the president unfortunately needed to respond.
Ours is not a country of nuance or thinking on so many issues.

Posted by mrsnak | Report as abusive

A lot of people I know were flipped out about Obama just because he was elected. Before he had done ANYTHING. Like it or not racism does exist in this country. When have we ever seen people hoping for a president to fail, that’s a new problem I’ve never seen before

Posted by jetslag | Report as abusive

In reading the responses on this post it is obvious that some of you either did not listen and/or read President Carter statement. No one said that ALL who oppose President Obama are racists and that ALL people in south are racists!

President Carter’s comment was prompted by the disrespectful behavior of Joe Wilson, who just happens to oppose President Obama and is from the south. If you know his record and history you are well aware that he is a bigot and a racist.

Posted by HAP | Report as abusive

Race is definetly the issue. Former president Jimmy Carter is expressing the sentiments of about 98 percent of non-white people. Racism is alive and flourishing in America.

Posted by Nor Walker | Report as abusive

Of course: it’s all about race. I lived in the South for six years, and I KNOW. None of my Soutern friends is a racist, but far too many still are. I went back a few years ago, and was appalled at how little had changed.

Posted by Michael Pulman | Report as abusive

I am white, I am conservative but that does not mean I am a racist. Given the choice between Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama as my president I would take Obama every time. I don’t like Obama’s politics but he is intelligent and presidential. On the other hand, Carter has never been presidential.


Posted by NapyBlue | Report as abusive

If anyone believes there is no racism in this country and that some of the backlash again President Obama isn’t about race then I have a deal for you. Beachfront Property in Nebraska for $50.00 an acre.

How can anyone listen at a man (Rush Limbaugh) want to see the country falter because he dislikes the President. He may say it’s about policy. Why didn’t he say it about Clinton. He’s mad because his plann\ backfired and they ended up with someone they thought would be easy to beat. Someone they despised more than Hillary. Now he’s throwing tantrums like an overstuffed cry-baby, wanting the man to fail. He does care about the nation; only his warped agenda. And those who follow him know exactly what his and their idiology is.

It doesn’t stop with Rush but every Joe Wilson who represents those Racist Districts they serve.

It’s always going to be about race, isn’t it? If you want to talk about race. Obama has been and still is associated with some of the most radical people in this country and seems to slip by without a blemish. I think him being a black man has given him more opportunities to push his radical agenda, because many are afraid of being labeled as a racist for opposing him. Whites are now being discriminated against, but that’s ok, I guess. If a white president set in a white rev. Wright’s church for 20 years, listening to him spew hatred for blacks. He would be a racist and would not be running this country. Double Standard…

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive

It will always be about race to Jimmy Carter. Race relations define his world and all there is about him has been shaped by fear of being perceived to be a racist. The irony is, of course, that as a southerner Jimmy Carter has endured more prejudicial outpouring of vilification, in a more public manner, in print, in the movies, in song, in the media, etc. etc. all of his life, so his reactions against the perception of all southerners as white separatists has defined his life. What is really sad, is that Jimmy reveals (through this episode) that he has bought some of the false accusations, and is now turning them on others.

Posted by Prestor John | Report as abusive

Maybe you don’t know you are racist. No one writing here will ever admit it even to themselves. I was so glad to hear it from a white president from the south. What Wilson did was like spitting in Prez. Obama’s face. This is the racists way of showing a black man how much they hate him. Their behavior is so obvious. You say it is about policy but even if you strongly agree with someone would you disrespect them like Wilson did? Would you yawn and text during meetings? These racist can not sleep at night knowing a black intelligent man is in charge of their lives and they are going to do everything they can to get rid of the truth that stares at them everyday in the White house, in the newspaper and on television. I am telling you it is killing them. They have to do something to express their hatred less they explode and that is what Joe Wilson did. God has put the truth before them as a Black man who is everything they refuse to believe he can be–intelligent, articulent, compassionate and well-groomed. It is almost like Obama was sent to judge those who claim they are not racist.

Joe Wilson and the rest you now have to make up other reasons for hating a black person so now it’s Prez. Obama’s policies–Yea right! Oh it is so good what God has done to you Joe Wilson. I love it! You have to sit, listen and obey a black man. Isn’t this the worst nightmare for a racist? To be caught up in history under the administration of a black man.

Joe Wilson God snatched your hood off on national televison so Prez. Obama could recognize who he was dealing with. You can no longer hide your racism!

I know you and the others haven’t slept well for about 10 months now. The only way you will rest is to admit you are a racist and change your life before it is too late.

Posted by Sy Alexander | Report as abusive

“I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

– Hillary Rodham Clinton

April 28, 2003

Ms Clinton addressed the above comment to the Bush administration.

Posted by Rick | Report as abusive

Jimmy Carter needs to shut up and go sit on his front porch rocker and enjoy his retirement. The man blunders over and over again, sticking his two cents in where they are not needed or wanted (Middle East issues, most recently). His days of “running” the country are over, time to give up the facade that he is still at the helm in his own mind.

As for this stupid comment, well, what good has he done by saying this? None on any level. The truth is there will always be some level of racism in EVERY racial group – not just in whites from the South. It’s called statistical probability or reality, if you’re not into stats.

Now our society has come a long way in ending racism, squelching it down, but it is unrealistic to think it can ever be stamped completely out. No matter how much we would like that, it just isn’t going to happen.

The truth is also that bleating this out as a national media statement does NOTHING to “fix” racism. It only serves to whip up the racists and those that are being wrongly accused in a blanket statement like this. And it helps incite racists on the other side, folks being hated by the particular type of racists Jimmy has believes he has “called” out in this case.

Now why would any intelligent person believe that the world will be a better place by harping on a fact of life that cannot be changed? (the fact that there will always be some quantity of racists). We have laws in place to prevent discrimination. We have societal norms that frown upon and cause real ostracization of people who “act like racists” (by speech or action). These are the things that have helped us progress but we cannot ever completely wipe it out.

So what do you do? Do you constantly harp on this, inciting people over it, causing more upset, more pain on all sides, more division? Or do you look for mankind’s innate goodness (in non-racism) and embrace the laws and the social customs that support NON-racist thought, speech and behavior and know that they will do their job of holding those few back, holding them accountable and that as a society we will not allow overt racism acts and will be vigilant to keep it down?

It all comes down to glass half full – glass half empty and the concept of making your own reality. If you constantly choose to believe in the ugliness, the worst, the inhumane – well, guess what? That is exactly what you are going to cultivate. If you choose to look at the glass half full and project that, it will become the reality. I think it’s a very simple choice and I am shocked that a man who is supposed to be highly intelligent cannot see these very simple concepts. Shame on Jimmy Carter. I think perhaps he is blurting out some of his own deep seated racist thoughts .but we should not all have to suffer for that.

And further, since when does being racist equate to skin color and the location of one’s birth? Jimmy Carter is a white southerner. Shouldn’t he then be the ultimate racist according to Jimmy Carter and his assinine statement?

Posted by lee | Report as abusive

Some Americans hate the fact that a black man is president. Honestly, I never expected this election result to happen in my lifetime. Good for America!

Jimmy Carter is an honest, upright and intelligent man who was too good for this nation (during his presidency). I highly respect his opinion. If the race issue is not honestly addressed by all parties, then America will never move forward. Maybe a hundred years from now, we will look back at the racists of all colors and laugh at how stupid their stance was on this issue. But I hope it happens sooner than that.

Posted by J Fiosi | Report as abusive

Charles seems to think that Limbaugh is racist and I assume he believes this because he’s been told to believe it by the mainstream media. I have never heard Limbaugh make a racist statement so, Charles please do enlighten us with at least one. The media’s playing a very dangerous game what with their attacking anyone that disagrees with the president as being a racist and they somehow manage to disgust me more every day.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive

The President’s father is black and his mother is white, that makes him just like us. President Obama would never have been elected if race were the issue. Grow up people!

Posted by Happy to live in the USA | Report as abusive

The only people injecting racism into this discussion are those who are using it as an excuse for Obama’s complete failure so far to accomplish anything of note.

Further, I can’t think of anything less intelligent than to suggest that supporting Bush but not Obama makes one a racist. Bush was somewhat conservative. Obama is a far left liberal. Does that make any non-white who didn’t support Bush a racist? Where was Jimmy Carter then?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Why are so many people taking the race bait?? I want a government that encourages honesty, hard work, liberty and freedom. Let’s debate who will uphold those values… I haven’t found them yet.
I was born and raised in a Social Democracy… my dad can no longer afford car insurance on his retirement … taxed for everything including church…(my guess – only a matter of time before someone in our government comes up with that bright idea)
For social programs to exist the working class gets to pay an average of 50% income tax… is it working?? Depends who you ask, unemployed get help to make it by, but really can’t get any where, you can’t kick a renter out of an apartment because they won’t pay because they are protected by law. If you come in from out of country on a work visa and you want breast augmentation, you just need a doctor to certify that you have a lack of self esteem – voila – procedure will be paid for courtesy of the government…
Who gets screwed? The Tax payers!!! “Black” money is rampant, because working people feel it is the only way to save.
Where do people think government gets the money for social programs??? Call it what you want – I trust myself more than anyone in government – I want to decide who I’m helping! I’ll work to reach my goals! Hope springs in the heart and soul and not from government!

Posted by Petra | Report as abusive