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TITUSVILLE, Fla. -- Trying to put an end to a week's worth of sniping between the presidential candidates over which of them was playing the race card, Democrat Barack Obama said today that John McCain's campaign was not racist, only cynical in encouraging voter concerns about his candidacy.
"In no way do I think that John McCain's campaign is racist," Obama said during a morning press conference at a Cape Canaveral, Fla., hotel. "I think they're being cynical. I think they want to distract people from talking about real issues."
The McCain camp accused Obama last week of playing the "race card" when he told rural crowds in Missouri that Republicans would use scare tactics to highlight that Obama, the first African American with a shot at the presidency, does not look like "all those presidents on the dollar bills."
First, Obama campaign officials, lacking any example of McCain ever pointing directly or indirectly at Obama's race as an issue in the campaign, have backpedaled rapidly away from any suggestion that their Republican opponent is using the very tactics Obama suggested on Wednesday.
Campaign manager David Plouffe was pressed hard during a conference call on Thursday for examples and could not point to any. An inquiry to the Obama campaign later in the day produced no immediate response and later no answer to a direct question asking for evidence to buttress Obama's suggestion that McCain would try to scare people into not voting for Obama because he's black.