U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during an event at the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Aug. 6, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong—Getty Images
August 9, 2015 11:36 AM EDT

President Obama took the occasion of the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting death by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., to say that he felt “a great urgency to get as much done as possible” before he leaves office. He dismissed criticism that he tabled race issues in his first term “because other things had to be dealt with first, other ground had to be covered first … for political reasons.”

“That I don’t buy,” Obama said in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Weekend Edition Sunday. “I think it’s fair to say that if, in my first term, Ferguson had flared up, as president of the United States, I would have been commenting on what was happening in Ferguson.”

Obama noted that heading into his second term has allowed his “passions” to take precedence. “I’ve been around this track now for a while,” he told Inskeep.

 

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Write to Tanya Basu at tanya.basu@time.com.

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