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Obama Recalls How Racism Affected His Presidency

President Barack Obama revealed in a Dec. 7 interview how racism affected him while in office.

"I think there's a reason why attitudes about my presidency among whites in Northern states are very different from whites in Southern states," Obama told Fareed Zakaria in "The Legacy of Barack Obama," a CNN special report. "Are there folks whose primary concern about me has been that I seem foreign, the other? Are those who champion the 'birther' movement feeding off of bias? Absolutely."

However, Obama says he doesn't believe racism played a large factor in Republican opposition to his policies. 

Yet some who worked for Obama disagree, recalling the kind of political opposition he faced.

"It's indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race," said David Axelrod, Obama's former senior adviser.

Axelrod added that one influential Republican told Obama: "[W]e don't really think you should be here but the American people thought otherwise. So we're going to have to work with you."

Obama's comments come only a couple of weeks after his wife, Michelle, was on the receiving end of racist remarks, Christian Science Monitor reports.

"It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels," Pamela Ramsey Taylor, the head of a West Virginia nonprofit in Clay County, wrote on Facebook.

Beverly Whaling, mayor of the town of Clay, West Virginia, sparked controversy after she responded, "[J]ust made my day Pam."

Whaling later apologized.

"My comment was not intended to be racist at all," Whaling said. "I was referring to ... change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not of any way racist!"

Before that Facebook post, Pennsylvania West York Mayor Charles Wasko resigned after sharing memes which compared the Obamas to orangutans. 

"I will say what is on my mind and what I believe in," Wasko said in response to the backlash. "The racist stuff, yeah, I'll admit I did that, and I don't care what people label me as."

Sources: CNNChristian Science Monitor (2) / Photo credit: The White House/Flickr

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