Well there you have it — the first overt infusion of race into the general election. Barack Obama's comments at a town hall meeting yesterday, warning voters against scare tactics, caused McCain's camp to allege that Obama "played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck." Here's what Obama said:
Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.
Obama's side says that Obama wasn't talking about his race, rather he was referring more generally to all the things that make him a different sort of candidate like his age, newcomer status, and overall background. For more on the controversial issue of race, and how Obama might not actually be the first "black" president, read more.
Even if Obama was talking about his race, I'm wondering what is so offensive about it. Perhaps some think Obama is using his race as an unfair advantage or that his choice of words inferred that Bush or McCain are racist. But overall is it off limits for Obama to speak frankly about possible insecurities his race might bring about in voters? There is no doubt that some see Obama as too "different" and that opponents might seize these insecurities and use them to their advantage. (Barack actually isn't that different, as five previous presidents had African ancestry.)
Whether you agree with Obama on the issues or not, do you worry that Obama's race could turn voters off from him?