Obama cites race for lagging approval numbers
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said that racial tensions may have softened his popularity among white voters within the past two years, according to a story posted on The New Yorker magazine's website on Sunday.
"There's no doubt that there's some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president," Obama said in the article by David Remnick in the magazine's Jan. 27 edition.
"Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I'm a black president," Obama said in his most direct comments on how race has affected his political standing since he's been in office.
Obama's second term has been marked by controversies including a government shutdown in October, revelations that the National Security Agency has gathered personal phone data and the troubled rollout of health-insurance expansion.
Obama's approval rating among all voters is 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 53 percent, according to a Gallup Poll conducted Jan. 14-16.
Obama offered reflections on a variety of subjects in the New Yorker story, including his view about the dangers of playing professional football, which has been the subject of media scrutiny over players' head injuries.
"I would not let my son play pro football," the article quotes Obama, the father of two daughters, as saying. When asked by Remnick how those dangers squared with his enjoyment of the game as a spectator, Obama said professional players are aware of the inherent risk in playing a full-contact sport.
Obama acknowledged that reports of U.S. surveillance programs, including allegations that the government tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, had created a "breach of trust," Remnick reported.
Obama said he also assumes others are trying to spy on him, and for this reason he doesn't have a phone, according to The New Yorker.