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Spike Lee: Obama Faces a 'Very Close' and 'Nasty' Re-election

Spike Lee
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The filmmaker says he doesn't expect to see another black president in his lifetime: "I will be dead before it happens."

Filmmaker Spike Lee, who has engaged the issue of race more forthrightly than any other American director of his generation, sees Barack Obama's election as the nation's most unifying moment since the defeat of fascism -- but doesn't expect it to be repeated in his lifetime. He also expects this election cycle to be "nasty" and "close."

"Bottom line: There are many people in America who look at themselves and say, 'Am I better now than I was before?' ” Lee told New York magazine in a wide-ranging Q&A posted Sunday on the Vulture blog. "It is going to be tooth and nail, and I think it is going to get nasty. But, in my opinion, if they are trying to bring up Rev. Jeremiah Wright again, they are really reaching. I hope and pray that people are not going to go for the Willie Horton okeydoke."

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Lee, one of Obama's staunchest Hollywood supporters and fundraisers, looked back on the president's win four years ago with a bit of nostalgia.

"It was one of the greatest moments in American history, and people really felt that moment," he said. "I think all those emotions were honest -- black, white and brown. People would cry, and some in disbelief, some in joy, some in euphoria. America had reached a point that many people, black and white, thought would never, ever, ever, ever happen. And this was the epitome of how great we are as a country, and the world saw that.

"The world looked at America like they had not seen America since World War II. Since we kicked the fascists’ ass with Italy, Japan and Nazi Germany. That was the last moment that the rest of the world looked at us like that, I think."

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The filmmakers said he can see now that people were "naive" about what Obama could achieve, especially in regards to race relations.

"Many people, black and white, went for the okeydoke and believed that racism was eradicated from America the moment he got elected," Lee said. "Like it was ­presto-chango, abracadabra, whiz-bam or whatever you want to say. Poof, and it is gone. And I think that was naive."

When asked his views on Mitt Romney, Lee recalled the day he met the GOP presidential hopeful several years ago at a concession stand at Reagan National Airport.

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"I was just in D.C. and he was there and he said, 'What’s up, Spike?' and I said, 'What’s happening, Mitt?'" Lee told New York. "We were in line getting something to eat. So I said what’s up and shook hands. I think it is going to be very, very, very close."

If Obama loses, does Lee expect to see a black president again anytime soon?

"I will be dead before it happens," he said.