Confederate Flag Supporters Upset

Saturday, December 1, 2007
By Romney Thompson
The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A group that supports the flying of the Confederate flag called two Republican presidential candidates “scalawags and carpetbaggers” Friday for their criticism of the divisive banner during this week’s GOP debate.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans said it was upset by remarks by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. A news conference outside Romney’s headquarters is planned for Tuesday.

“This will kick off a concerted effort by the SCV to let scalawags and carpetbaggers know that the road to the White House hits a dead end when they smear the good name of our Southern ancestors,” Don Gordon, an official with the state division of the organization, said in a statement.

Romney’s South Carolina spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The flag, long seen as a symbol of racism by some and as an emblem of Southern pride by others, once flew atop the Capitol in this early voting state. A 2000 compromise removed it from the dome, though it remains on the Statehouse grounds and flies next to a Confederate soldier memorial beside one of the busiest streets in the city.

When asked about the banner during the debate, Romney said, “That’s not a flag that I recognize.” *

“My own view is that this country can go beyond that kind of stuff, and that instead we can do as a party what we need to do, which is to reach out to all Americans,” he said.

Thompson, according to, said he does not believe everyone who flies the flag is a racist. “I also know that for a great many Americans, it’s a symbol of racism,” he said.

Arizona Sen. John McCain also has drawn the ire of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for comments he made after losing the 2000 primary here to George Bush.

While McCain echoed the then-Texas governor during their debate, he later said he had not been honest about his feelings and his ancestors who fought for the Confederacy “fought on the wrong side of American history.”

When he campaigned here in April, the Confederate heritage group picketed McCain’s Columbia stop at a flour mill. “John McCain speaks with a forked tongue,” Gordon said at the time.

© The Morning News

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