Friday, January 18, 2008

Another reason to root for McCain in South Carolina ...

... and another reason to dislike, not just oppose, Huckabee (who has already provided us with plenty of others). McCain waffled on this issue in 2000, but then admitted he had done the wrong thing and apologized for it. He's taken a clear and principled stand ever since. Huckabee and his campaign, on the other hand, have revived this issue, already settled years ago by South Carolina voters, for purposes of anti-McCain demagoguery. In the grand picture of the 2008 presidential election campaign, this is just one incident. But it's worth noticing.

(Incidentally, the latest polls suggest that McCain and Huckabee are running neck and neck for first place in the Republican primary, with Huckabee gaining--though I hope we have all learned to take pre-election polls with a grain of salt.)

--Jeff Weintraub
Associated Press
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
John McCain Defends 2000 Opposition to Flying Confederate Flag Atop S.C. Capitol

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — John McCain on Wednesday defended his opposition eight years ago to the flying of the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia, brushing aside protests that dogged him at campaign events and suggesting most people in the state don’t want the issue reopened.

Several protesters aggressively waved Confederate flags at McCain’s bus procession as it arrived for campaign events in Greenville and Spartanburg and passed out literature recalling McCain’s April 2000 call for removal of the flag from atop the South Carolina statehouse.

The dispute became an issue in the presidential contest that year as McCain waged a losing battle in South Carolina against then Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The flag was subsequently moved and now is displayed elsewhere on the statehouse grounds.

McCain was confronted about the 2000 dispute at a town-hall style meeting Wednesday, by a questioner who said, “I’m one of the guys passing out the papers” and he believed McCain’s position was wrong.

McCain said he “could not be more proud of the majority of the people of this state” who agreed the flag should be removed. The questioner, who identified himself as John William Hill, 51, of Charleston, got some scattered applause for his question, but McCain’s response produced a wave of applause that drowned out further comments from his critic.

Later, McCain told reporters, “I believe the issue has been resolved in the minds of the overwhelming majority of the people of South Carolina. You can tell from the crowd reaction. They don’t want it reopened.”

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