In a rare interview, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said that President Barack Obama's election has worsened racial problems, not helped solve them.
Limbaugh claimed that critics of Obama's policies are quickly labeled racist, creating a toxic environment for political discourse.
"I'll be honest with you, I predicted to you it was going to exacerbate racial problems, and it has," he told NBC in an interview that aired this morning. "Any criticism of President Obama is going to be said to be racism. And if you don't like his healthcare bill, racism. And I opposed it when Clinton and Hillary were trying to do it, and they aren't black."
Limbaugh, who is an adamant opponent of President Obama, said that his election as the first black president "was wonderful when it happened" but that he "got over it very quickly."
"He's the president of the United States. His skin color doesn't matter to me, his policies are what matter," Limbaugh added.
When asked if some of the past segments on his show, such as a song called "Barack the 'Magic Negro,' " crossed the line from satire into racism — Limbaugh defended them as pure satire.
"Would you ask someone who writes for 'Saturday Night Live' these questions?" he responded, saying the title was lifted from a Los Angeles Times column written by a black man.
Limbaugh also demurred when asked if he was the leader of the Republican Party and had the power to influence GOPers like party Chairman Michael Steele. The chairman apologized to Limbaugh after he criticized him several months ago.
"Well, I'm going to dispute that I have that much power," Limbaugh said. "I believe in the free market. And if the free market creates that with my participation in it — then it is what it is."