Former President Jimmy Carter insisted Thursday that he did not say protests against President Barack Obama were driven by racism.
Carter touched off a firestorm three weeks ago when he said Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) “You Lie!” outburst was “based on racism” and that there “is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”
When asked about the comments Thursday during an interview on CNN however, Carter backed off the characterizations of his earlier remarks.
“By the way, that’s not what I said,” Carter interjected as he was being asked about the comment. “If you read the remarks carefully, you’ll see that’s not what I said.”
“I said those that had a personal attack on President Obama as a person, that was tinged with racism,” Carter explained. “But I recognize that people who disagree with him on health care or the environment, that the vast majority of those are not tinged by racism.”
“I meant exactly what I said,” he continued. “What I actually said, if you look at the transcript, is what I just repeated to you.”
In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter attributed much of the conservative opposition that President Obama is receiving to the issue of 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. “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.”
Carter continued, “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.”
I guess he said it before he didn’t say it – or something like that.