Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says rising vocal attacks against President Barack Obama are race-related.

During a town hall meeting in the southern state of Georgia Tuesday, Mr. Carter said some Americans feel that an African-American "ought not be president and ought not be given the same respect as if he were white."

Mr. Carter said statements such as calling Mr. Obama a "Nazi" are not just "casual outcomes of a sincere debate" over the president's health care proposals.  He said it is  "deeper than that."

In a television interview broadcast on NBC News Tuesday,  Mr. Carter said race is behind what he described as "intensely demonstrated animosity" toward President Obama.

The organizers of a series of protests against Mr. Obama have rejected charges that racism is behind the movement, saying they are exercising their right to demonstrate against his policies.

Last week, Republican House of Representatives member Joe Wilson shouted "You Lie!" as President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on plans for health care reforms.  He later apologized for the outburst.

On Tuesday, the majority-Democrat House passed a "resolution of disapproval" against Wilson.  The vote was mostly along party lines.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.