Washington (CNN) – With the nation’s first African-American president occupying the Oval Office, the South’s Confederate history is ensnaring a second Republican governor in as many weeks in a controversy over how the nation ought to remember the institution of slavery.
Trying to defend a fellow Southern Republican governor, Mississippi’s Haley Barbour drew fire from the Democratic National Committee, which issued a statement Sunday after an interview with Barbour aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
Earlier: Concern of slavery omission 'doesn't amount to diddly,' says Barbour
“I don’t know what you would say about slavery,” Barbour told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “but anybody who thinks that slavery is a bad thing – I think goes without saying.”
Barbour was explaining his belief that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had not made a mistake in omitting any mention of slavery from a recent proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month in his state.
Responding to allegations that McDonnell’s omission was insensitive, Barbour said, “To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit. That it is not significant, that it's not a – it's trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly.”
The DNC slammed Barbour for the remarks.
"Governor Barbour defended the indefensible this morning and in doing so portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,” DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan said in a written statement. “To say that the systematic condemnation of millions to bondage and generation upon generation to servitude is ‘not significant,’ or that the tearing apart of families and the selling of human beings as cattle ‘doesn't amount to diddly’ is outrageous for any public official to say, let alone a man Republicans have placed in a position of leadership.”
Associate Justice John Paul Stevens announced Friday that he intends to step down later this year, stirring speculation about who Obama will appoint during a midterm election year when Democrats already appear to be facing a challenging political environment.
“The president’s going to appoint a liberal successor to Justice Stevens who's one of the most liberal members of the Supreme Court,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Barbour added that he thought Obama is going to “appoint the most liberal person that he can and he thinks he can get confirmed. And that, that person will be a liberal. That’s just a fact.”
The former RNC chairman and current chairman of the Republican Governors Association told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process will affect November’s midterm elections by reminding the public where Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress sit on the political spectrum.
“Do I think it'll affect the election?,” he said. “Only to the sense that it reminds the American people of something they already know - that this is far and away the most liberal administration that we've ever had in the White House, and candidly, in the Congress.”
Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, backtracked and admitted that he’d made a mistake when he declared April Confederate History Month with a proclamation that made no mention of slavery. The proclamation “contained a major omission,” McDonnell said.
Related: McDonnell apologizes for initial proclamation
"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said in a written statement. The governor also announced that his proclamation would be amended to mention slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”
Asked about the controversy in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he didn’t think McDonnell made a mistake in issuing the original proclamation.
Later: Barbour 'defended the indefensible,' DNC says
Barbour noted that Mississippi’s Democratically-controlled legislature has enacted Confederate Memorial Day, a statewide holiday, and that he and his predecessors in both parties have issued proclamations regarding the holiday.
Responding to concerns that McDonnell’s omission of any mention of slavery was insensitive, Barbour said, “To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit. That it is not significant, that it's not a - it's trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly.”
In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was diplomatic when asked about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
“I expect him to be head of the party for the rest of his term,” Barbour, himself a former RNC chair, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
For the past two weeks, Steele has been embroiled in a controversy over the RNC’s spending and his stewardship of the national party committee. In a recent interview, Steele, who is the RNC’s first African-American chairman, likened himself to President Obama and suggested that both he and the president have “a slimmer margin” for error because of their race.
Asked about Steele’s remark, Barbour said he did not believe Steele was being held to a higher standard because of the color of his skin.
“That's like me saying I think I'm held to the higher standard because I'm a fat redneck with an accent like this,” Barbour said, making a joking reference to his stereotypical Southern drawl. “The fact of the matter is in that job, people are judged by results and that's just the way it is. It's the way it was for me, it's the way it was for everybody since then.”
Barbour added that he does not believe it is right for any former GOP chair to criticize the current chairman.
And the Mississippi governor was equally diplomatic about former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Full results (pdf)
TOPICS: Nuclear power
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) - The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama "poses a threat to international peace" and is "wicked and untrustworthy," Iran's supreme leader said Sunday, according to Iranian media.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the remarks Sunday in a meeting with the Armed Forces chief of staff and other top military officials, according to Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Khamenei said that Obama had recently threatened Iran with nuclear weapons.
He apparently was referring to last week's announcement of a shift in U.S. nuclear strategy, in which the administration said it would swear off developing new generations of nuclear weapons and would not use its existing arsenal to attack non-nuclear states that are in compliance with non-proliferation agreements.
A Democratic and Republican senator sparred Sunday over the impending confirmation process for President Obama's second Supreme Court pick. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - (CNN) - Two leading senators on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider President Barack Obama's upcoming Supreme Court nominee, signaled Sunday that a bruising fight is likely.
Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, called the current conservative-leaning Supreme Court the most activist he had seen, while ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama wouldn't rule out a filibuster if Obama nominates what the GOP perceives to be a liberal activist.
(CNN) - Does Iran have the know-how to build a nuclear weapon? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wouldn't say on Sunday, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the answer was "no."
Appearing with Gates in a pre-recorded interview on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Clinton defended the Obama Administration policy of seeking a unified international response to Iran's nuclear ambitions, including stronger United Nations sanctions.
Republicans criticize the policy as too weak, citing Iran's continuing snub of international regulations governing nuclear energy and nuclear weapons programs.
Clinton said President Barack Obama's decision to break with his predecessor's policies and seek negotiations with Iran has exposed the Tehran government's intransigence.
Washington (CNN) - When Maine gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott launched a new advertisement called “Prosperity” on his Web site Thursday, the last thing he expected was that it would lead supporters to a video about streaking.
The advertisement was embedded on the campaign Web site using video hosting platform blip.tv. When the video finished playing, a "staff picks" feature popped up suggesting a documentary: "Streak to Win." The streaking video could then be played on the campaign Web site. But the documentary, about a college streaking team from Upstate New York, is not produced by the Abbott campaign.
The unusual situation was first reported by the Washington Independent. The Independent’s reporter had to click through two tiers of navigation by watching the political advertisement, then clicking on the link to the blip.tv staff picks, and then clicking on the link to the video to make it appear.
When the campaign saw screen grabs posted by the Independent, it responded swiftly by switching its video hosting platform from blip.tv to YouTube.
"While we'd love to see Steve Abbott streak to a win for Maine governor, this wasn't what we had in mind," Abbott’s Director of Communications Felicia Knight told CNN.