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Obama doesn't blame criticism on race, says White House

The White House said Wednesday that President Obama doesn't believe he's being criticized because of his race.

Spokesman Robert L. Gibbs said Obama, the nation's first black president, doesn't think that criticism of his policies is "based on the color of his skin."

Gibbs was asked about the topic after comments Tuesday by former President Jimmy Carter.

Carter said the outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., during Obama's speech to Congress last week was "based on racism."

Carter also said "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

Gibbs said that some people have disagreements with some of Obama's decisions but that those concerns were not because of his race.

Carter added on Wednesday that "racism 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 around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."

Wilson's son also disputed Carter.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," said Alan Wilson, an Iraq War veteran who is running for state attorney general in South Carolina. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him.

"It's unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree -- and appropriately disagree -- on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it's absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race."

Wilson was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote for shouting "You lie!" during Obama's speech to Congress on Sept. 9.

Citing Carter's remarks, top Republicans suggested that the Obama camp is using race to deflect legitimate policy concerns.

Republican National Chairman Michael S. Steele, who is black, said in a statement: "Characterizing Americans' disapproval of President Obama's policies as being based on race is an outrage and a troubling sign about the lengths Democrats will go to disparage all who disagree with them."

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