US President Barack Obama does not think racism is "the overriding issue" in the fierce debate on health care, but said in interviews to be aired on Sunday that tempers were rising over the proper role of government.
"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here," Obama told CNN in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast on "State of the Union."
The US leader, in a media blitz to shore up support for health care reform, will appear on five major Sunday talkshows after commandeering prime-time television earlier this month with a major address to Congress on the issue.
Obama has been pulled into the controversy-rife race debate after former president Jimmy Carter claimed racism was driving demonstrations and angry rhetoric on the president's health care reform plans and spending policy.
An "overwhelming part" of the US public is more concerned with how health care reform will affect them, Obama said, according to excerpts of an interview with ABC television's "This Week."
The "biggest driver" of opposition to his administration's proposals likely comes from people who are "passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right," the president said.
Since Obama swept to victory in elections last November, several incidents have seized on Obama's race.