Obama Adviser Sees Presidential Race Opening

Correction Oct. 8, 2008

We incorrectly referred to David Axelrod as campaign manager for Barack Obama. He is Obama's chief strategist.

David Axelrod, chief strategist for Barack Obama, says he thinks the contest with John McCain is widening. Polls show Obama slightly ahead of McCain.

In an interview with Steve Inskeep, Axelrod says he does not think voters' racial concerns are making the presidential contest closer than it would otherwise be.

"I think that if there were voters who were motivated that way, they are unlikely to have been voting for the Democratic nominee anyway," Axelrod says.

He believes the race is opening up for Obama. That's despite skepticism from voters like Tina Graham, a Democrat from southwest Virginia who opposes McCain but isn't sure she can vote for Obama.

"Until he was nominated to run for president, I never really thought about whether or not that I was racist, or however you want to put it," Graham says.

She's concerned Obama won't represent poor white people like herself. "It's just the fact that I think that he will represent them in what they want and in what they need and stuff, and forget about — you know, they're his people, they're his race."

But Axelrod thinks the role of race in this election year has been overstated, and he says Obama is doing as well with Democrats at this point as McCain is doing with Republicans.

"I mean, I understand the fascination of the media with this issue. I think what we're going to find on Nov. 4 is that that is an overstated factor in the race," he says.

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