CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. " Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today described John McCain's campaign against him as one driven by cynicism but not racism and rejected McCain's criticism that Obama himself had brought race into their debate.
The McCain campaign charged this week that Obama had "played the race card" in accusing McCain and other Republicans of planning to scare voters by pointing out that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills" " all of whom are white men. In the ensuing debate, a McCain spokesman suggested the Arizona senator was being painted as a racist.
In response, Obama's campaign contended that the Illinois senator was referring only to being new in Washington politics and, in turn, accused McCain of being the one to bring up race.
"In no way do I think John McCain's campaign was racist. I think they are cynical," Obama said Saturday. "Their team is good at creating distractions and engaging in negative attacks."
Reporters questioned Obama about the issue of race as he campaigned for a second day in Florida, where offshore oil drilling was emerging as a top issue. The Illinois senator said he was willing to compromise his stand against further drilling along the U.S. coastline if other proposals were part of a plan for energy independence.
"What I don't want to do is for the best to be the enemy of the good," he said. "And if we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, in which I have to accept some things that I don't like or the Democrats have to accept some things that they don't like in exchange for actually moving us in the direction of actual energy independence, then that's something I'm open to."