On PBS, Lehrer Asks Carter About 'Positive Ripple Effects' of Obama's Race

During live PBS coverage in the 8 pm EDT hour, anchorman Jim Lehrer asked former president Jimmy Carter if Obama's election, or just his nomination, "will send positive ripple effects throught the country on the race issue." Carter gave a dramatic answer: he said Obama's election would provide "the transforming grace for the end of racism and prejudice and hatred in our country."

The discussion over race began when pundit David Brooks wondered out loud if Obama's trouble pulling ahead of John McCain is due to race. Carter said it's a factor, but not as large a factor as the fervor of Hillary partisans. Carter declared that when Obama spoke about race in Philadelphia (ahem, to try and defuse the storm over his pastor Jeremiah Wright's vicious sermons),

I wept. I sat in front of the television and cried, because I saw that as the most enlightening and transforming analysis of racism and the potential end of it that I ever saw in my life.

LEHRER: If it happens that he is elected, or even his just being nominated, will send positive ripple effects throughout the country on the race issue.

CARTER: Around the world, around the world. And I think it already has sent a wave of approbation and admiration in many countries around the world just knowing that this black boy who grew with just a loving mother and grandparents and that was about all he had to start with, has now had a chance to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for President....I don't think there's any doubt that there's a spirit and a bright new hope for America within this country and around the world, and if Obama is elected, which I think he is going to be, then I think that will be the transforming grace for the end of racism and prejudice and hatred between races in this country.

LEHRER: That's quite a statement.

CARTER: I believe it's true.

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