Heading into the Democratic primary in South Carolina, Sen. Barack Obama is banking on a win. He also says the media is making race more of an issue that it actually is.
"The press has been focused, almost, you know, maniacally, on the issue of race, here in South Carolina. But, as we move forward after this contest, I'm very confident that we are going to continue to build the kinds of coalitions that we've been seeing all across the country," Obama told "Good Morning America Weekend" anchor Kate Snow.
In recent weeks, media coverage of the Democratic primaries has been dominated by issues of race.
Today voters go to the polls in South Carolina, where the issue is perhaps most relevant, as African-American voters made up 47 percent of the vote in the 2004 Democratic primary.
"Here in South Carolina, there's a sizeable African-American population; not surprisingly, I'm … doing well there. I'm sure they're taking pride in my candidacy," Obama said.
"The Black Candidate"
The junior senator from Illinois dismissed the notion raised in the media that he has been marginalized, in the words of Associated Press writer Ron Fournier, as "the black candidate, by the Clinton machine." Obama instead pointed to his past successes in white-dominated areas.
"I think it'd be hard to argue that I have been marginalized, when I won Iowa, which was 94 percent white. We were almost tied in New Hampshire, a state that has an all-white population. And in Nevada, I was able to win, actually, the biggest votes, uh, margins, in those northern areas … that are predominantly white, rural, conservative areas," Obama said.
At a South Carolina debate on Monday night hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, the candidates' arguing left many complaining about an increase in "nastiness." Pundits argue that this type of negative perception could tarnish Obama's emphasis on "hope," but he says he's been the target not the source.
"There's been a flare up over the last month, namely because I've started doing well," he said with a laugh. "I mean, when I was 20 points down, I was a wonderful guy and my health care plan was universal. And, you know, as we got more notice and won Iowa, I think, you know, the classic Washington response was, 'Let's see if we can muddy the guy up a little bit,'" Obama said.
Unlike Sen. Clinton and Sen. Edwards, this is the first national campaign for Sen. Obama and his family. His wife, Michelle Obama, said earlier this week that "this is hard. There is another option for us that is better than this," referring to the sacrifice of spending time with their children and potentially making more money by not working in politics.
"Missing out on a chunk of your child's growing up is very difficult. But, you know, the reason she emphasizes this is because, you know, it's worth it," Obama said.
"You have to do this because you're passionate about making sure that the ordinary American out there who's trying to raise a family, the single mom who is struggling, that those people are getting some relief … We've done it in the past, there's no reason we can't do it in the future, but we need some leadership in Washington," he said.