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Chuck Grassley dismissed former President Jimmy Carter’s claim that an outburst during President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress was “based on racism.”Carter made his racism claim Tuesday when asked about Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouting “You lie” during the president’s health-care speech to a joint session of Congress.“I think it’s based on racism,” Carter said. “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”Wilson, whose apology has been accepted by the president, has been rebuked by the U.S. House on a mainly party line vote.

Grassley called the rebuke “all political.”“If it was otherwise, they would have accepted where the apology should have gone and it did go to the president,” the Iowa Republican said when asked about Carter’s suggestion of a tone of disrespect toward Obama.“Those kinds of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care,” Carter said. “It’s deeper than that.”Grassley, who said he likes Carter “as an individual,” not only disagreed with him Wednesday, but said the former president’s comments are consistent with appears to be a larger effort to label every criticism of Obama as racist.

Grassley heard the same sentiment expressed during his town meetings in August: “That anything negative about anything about the president’s programs is racial.”“People who were very supportive of the president and his programs indicated same thing that these attacks are racially motivated,” Grassley said.Obama’s election in 2008 refutes that claim, Grassley said, because without the support of white voters, Obama wouldn’t have been elected.“So from that standpoint, he was elected by the whole country,” Grassley said.

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