Obama says Republicans will use race to stoke fear

JACKSONVILLE, Florida Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:19pm EDT

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) addresses a news conference after meeting with his foreign policy advisory panel of former Democratic U.S. government officials at a hotel in Washington June 18, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) addresses a news conference after meeting with his foreign policy advisory panel of former Democratic U.S. government officials at a hotel in Washington June 18, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him.

"It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy," Obama told a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid.

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

He said he was also set for Republicans to say "he's got a feisty wife," in trying to attack his wife Michelle.

"We know the strategy because they've already shown their cards. Ultimately I think the American people recognize that old stuff hasn't moved us forward. That old stuff just divides us," he said.

Obama, born to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, has cast himself as a candidate who can bridge divides within the country, including those involving race.

It has been rare for him to bring up the topic during his presidential bid. In March he gave a widely praised speech on the subject after receiving criticism over racially charged comments by his longtime pastor.

Obama, who faces Republican John McCain in the November election, would be the first black U.S. president.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

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