White House Adviser: Obama Will Not Give Another Race Speech

Obama can duck but can't hide from country's debate about race.

ByABC News
September 16, 2009, 8:49 PM

Sept. 17, 2009— -- President Barack Obama has no plans to wade into the raging debate about race and the role it plays in an increasingly divided public discourse in America.

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said she does not believe the president needs to give a speech about race, as he did last year. "Right now, the president is focused on health care reform," she said, which "the people need.

"The president gave an outstanding speech on race during the campaign," Jarrett said by e-mail this morning. "People should be encouraged to re-read it."

The president will instead remain focused on the difficult and challenging efforts to overhaul health care, she said.

But whether the White House chooses to engage in the issue, the debate is swirling around the president.

Former President Jimmy Carter weighed in Wednesday for the second time in a week.

Speaking at Emory University in Atlanta, Carter blamed "a radical fringe element of demonstrators" for attacking the president. He referenced scattered signs depicting Obama as an animal or a re-incarnation of Adolf Hitler that were seen among the crowd of thousands at a protest rally last weekend in Washington, D.C.

"Those kind of things are beyond the bounds of the way presidents have ever been accepted, even with people who disagree," Carter said. "And I think people that are guilty of that personal attack against Obama have been influenced, to a major degree, by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American."

Many conservatives object to that characterization.