Brushing aside a row over racism, it was business as usual for President Obama as he welcomed the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Oval Office. Keen to keep the focus on policy, Obama is distancing himself from remarks made by former President Jimmy Carter, who believes some conservative opposition to Obama is fuelled by him being black – a contention Obama.His White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: “The President does not believe this is based on the colour of his skin.” But Carter has repeated his claims, denouncing the sort of demonstrators who depict Obama as Hitler. Speaking in Atlanta at the Emory University, he said: “I think people that are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American. It is a racist attitude.” Obama’s healthcare plans have prompted some of the strongest protests whether in Congress or on the streets. His critics deny race has anything to do with their anger. The president himself seems eager to steer clear of the issue completely and press ahead with his reforms.