ROCK HILL, S.C. -- At the CNN debate on Monday, Barack Obama blamed the media for perpetuating the issue of race in the presidential election. "I think the media, you know, has really been focused a lot on race as we move down to South Carolina. And I have to say that, as I travel around South Carolina, I am absolutely convinced that white, black, Latino, Asian, people want to move beyond our divisions."
However, South Carolina voters continue to question Obama on the issue. At a town hall meeting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, an African American voter told Obama that her 77 year old father believes that a black man "will not be able to do anything in Washington to help us." She wanted to know what she should tell her father.
Obama said that he is convinced that the American people do not care about the race of their presidential candidate.
"If I came to you and I had polka dots but you were convinced that I was going to put more money in your pockets and help you pay for college and help keep America safe, you'd say 'ok I wish he didn't have polka dots but I would still vote for him.'"
Obama hit on a deeper issue when he said that leaders have the responsibility to break through barriers, including mind barriers.
"We tell ourselves that we can't do something and part of our motto is to say 'yes we can' and I want to send that message to our children. I don't want to perpetuate this notion in our kids that there is a limit to their dreams."
At a rally in Greenwood yesterday, Edith Childs, the woman best known for her "Fire it up, Ready to Go" chant, said that race still matters to voters. Childs said she questioned Obama's candidacy because of it.
"To be honest when I first heard about him, that he filed for the candidacy, I thought, the United States is not ready for a black president and they sure aren't ready for a woman," Childs said.
She added that Obama's mannerisms and speech that day convinced her that he could bring the change that she is looking for and she now supports him.
Near the end of the Rock Hill event, Obama was asked how he sees the United States eight years from now.
Obama said that prejudice will still exist, "But I hope that as a consequence of me being president people will start looking at each other in a different way and they say we all have something in common as Americans and what we share is much more important than what divides us."