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CNN: Gibbs on Whether Race Impacts Obama's Detractors

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Sunday, September 13, 2009; 12:28 PM

JOHN KING (host): If you pick up Maureen Dowd's column in The New York Times this morning, she goes through Congressman (Joe) Wilson's statement, some of the other things, and she says in her -- she has come to the conclusion, quote: "Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it."

Does the president believe that some of these attacks are based on his race?

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SEC. ROBERT GIBBS: I don't think the president believes that people are upset because of the color of his skin. I think people are upset because on Monday we celebrate the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse that caused a financial catastrophe unlike anything we've ever seen.

We've had to do some extraordinary things, both this administration, the previous administration, to rescue the financial system, to ensure that our domestic auto industry didn't go out of business, and to stimulate the economy. That certainly cost a lot of money, but it's something that we had to do.

The president doesn't want to be somebody who runs auto companies or bails out banks. I do think -- I do think, again, this rhetoric often just gets way too hot. I think what we have to all do is take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember who we're here to represent: millions of Americans that have health insurance but are watching their premiums double.

Millions of Americans that don't have health insurance and are literally one doctor visit away, one thing from a doctor -- one diagnosis away from losing their house. That's what we have -- that's what that as to motivate us, that's what as to bring us to work every day, to find a solution to that.

I think if we have a debate that's based on fact and not based on hot rhetoric or what gets us on TV each and every day, my sense is that we can turn off some of the bright lights, get around a table not unlike this and actually solve a big problem for the American people.

I think that would be a big boost in confidence in our government, because we'd be addressing a problem that has been facing millions and millions of people for quite some time.

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