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Ben Carson: Obama's use of the "n-word" was not presidential

After President Obama's use of the "n-word" while discussing the state of race relations in the United States, Republican presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson weighed in, saying the president's word choice wasn't "presidential."

"I don't think it's very presidential," Carson told CBS News affiliate WGCL in Atlanta, Georgia. "But he certainly has the right to do it if that's the way he feels."

Speaking with Marc Maron for the comedian's popular "WTF" podcast, the president used the "n-word" to say that the U.S. has yet to overcome its charged history with racism.

"Racism - we are not cured of it," Mr. Obama said Monday. "And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."

The president's comments came shortly after last week's massacre of nine black parishioners in a church in Charleston.

Obama uses "N-word" to make point about race relations

Carson, who was the first black director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recently criticized some in his party for downplaying the role racism played in the South Carolina shooting.

"There are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate," Carson had said in a statement released by his campaign. "Let's not delude ourselves here."

The Republican presidential contender also made comments about the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag flying by South Carolina's state capitol.

SC debate begins over flag removal

Carson is wary of focusing too much on the flag. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jim Galloway, he said, "[Y]ou can put up Confederate flags everywhere or get rid of them. But that's not the essential issue. The essential issue is, where are people's hearts and minds? That's what we really should be working on. We have a tendency to grab symbols do symbolic things and think that we've solved the problem. And we really haven't."

Other political leaders - including some in South Carolina - have called for the removal of the flag, which flies at full mast near South Carolina's statehouse, after the Charleston shooting. The suspected murderer, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, identifies as a white supremacist and appears in photos holding the flag.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday that it was "time to move" the flag, with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott joining her for the announcement.

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