Transcript: President Barack Obama

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you about the broader debate around this – and you've seen a lot of your allies look at this whole debate around healthcare… and see the issue of race being injected after Joe Wilson's outburst. This week, President Carter. I know you disagree with that - that race is involved here. And you know we've talked about this in several interviews, about these kinds of issues, and you always dismiss it. So I'm just wondering: Does it frustrate you when your own supporters see racism when you don't think it exists?

OBAMA: Look, I think that race is such a volatile issue in this society. Always has been. That it becomes hard for people to separate out race being sort of a -- part of the backdrop of American society versus race being a predominant factor in any given debate. And what I've said, what we talked about during the campaign, are there some people who don't like me because of my race? I'm sure there are. Are there some people who vote for me only because of my race? There are probably some of those too. The overwhelming part of the American population I think is right now following the debate and trying to figure out is this going to help me? Is health care going to make me better off? Now there's some who, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that that's probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether you're going to raise their taxes.

OBAMA: Well, it goes beyond taxes. I mean I think that what we're seeing right now is a part of a running debate that we saw during FDR, we saw during Ronald Reagan, anytime there's a president who is proposing big changes that seem to implicate (ph) the size of government, that gets everybody's juices flowing and sometimes you get some pretty noisy debate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're in a different…

But -- but just to finish the thought. I think what I'm proposing is a very modest attempt to make sure that hard-working families out there are going to have the security of health insurance that they can count on. This isn't a radical plan. This isn't grafting a single payer model onto the United States. It's simply trying to deal with what everybody acknowledges is a big problem.

I think that there are some opponents who have used -- seized on this and tried to use this as a proxy for saying that somehow we are vastly expanding government and taking over every sector of the economy.

That's what a lot of this debate is about...


OBAMA: I think they're wrong. The one thing I hope is, is that we can have a civil argument about it and that we are able to acknowledge good motives on both sides. Everybody is a patriot. Each of us are Americans that care deeply about this country. And -- and sometimes I think that, frankly, the media encourages some of the outliers in behavior, because, let's face it, the easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude. If you're just being sensible and giving people the benefit of the doubt and you're making your arguments, you don't -- you don't get -- you don't get time on the nightly news.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You might on Sunday morning, but…

OBAMA: But if you -- if you say something outrageous, you're there in a hot second.

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