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Clinton: Racism not behind health debate

Sept. 22, 2009 at 8:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says that while some barbs aimed at the White House are motivated by race, healthcare reform concerns are not.

Clinton, speaking Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," partially agreed with an assessment by another former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, that some of the vitriolic opposition to President Barack Obama is because he is black. But Clinton did not count the opposition to healthcare reform among some Americans as evidence of racism.

"I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president," Clinton told King. "But I don't believe that all the people who oppose him on healthcare -- and all the conservatives -- are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then."

The former president added, "While I have devoted my life to getting rid of racism, I think this (healthcare) is a fight that my president and our party -- this is one we need to win on the merits."

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