20 Sep 2009

Racism rejected as reason for opposition to US healthcare reforms

5:09 am on 20 September 2009

United States President Barack Obama rejects the idea that racism is the main reason for angry protests against his planned healthcare reforms.

Mr Obama says some Americans may oppose him because of race, but that has not been the main factor behind the protests.

In TV interviews to be broadcast on Sunday, Mr Obama suggests anti-government sentiment is the key reason for the demonstrations.

The BBC reports former President Jimmy Carter said this week that much of the vitriol against reform plans was "based on racism".

He said many felt "that an African-American should not be president."

In comments to ABC News, Mr Obama said race was a "volatile issue" and "it becomes hard for people to separate out race being a sort of part of the backdrop of American society versus race being a predominant factor in any given debate".

But he added that he thought some were "more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that that's probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol."

In a separate interview with CNN, Mr Obama said he did not think race was the "the overriding issue here".