On CNN Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he didn't think the protests against the president are racially motivated.
Host John King asked Gibbs about signs that said "Bury Obamacare With Kennedy," describing the sign as "distasteful." In reference to a column by the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, King asked if the president thought his race had something to do with such vitriol.
"I don't think the president believes that people are upset because of the color of his skin." Rather, he said, they were upset by the financial collapse and the economic crisis.
"I do think... this rhetoric often just gets way too hot," Gibbs added. "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... we can actually solve a big problem for the American people."
King also asked the press secretary about some more famous opponents: Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
On Wilson, Gibbs said the president accepted his apology and that the incident was a good lesson in civility for his six-year-old. As for plans to censure Wilson, Gibbs he would "let the House figure out how to deal with that."
After playing a tape of Obama saying death panels are "a lie, plain and simple," King asked, "Does the president believe that Sarah Palin is a liar?"
"Despite many media outlets saying that what former Governor Palin was saying wasn't true, she continued to say it," Gibbs responded. "I'll let Webster define what one calls her. I think in the absence of fact... sometimes what happens is we fill the void with stuff that quite frankly isn't true." He said Obama helped fill that void in his speech Wednesday night.
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