Washington (CNN) - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour refused Tuesday to denounce attempts to create a special license plate honoring a 19th-century Ku Klux Klan leader.
"I don't go around denouncing people," Barbour told reporters Tuesday in Jackson, MS.
When asked by a reporter what he thought about the KKK leader in a historical context, Barbour gave a terse response.
"He's a historical figure," Barbour said.
Barbour went on to explain that he thought there was little chance approval for the plate would come from the state legislature.
"It's not going to happen," he said. "The Nathan Bedford Forrest tag is not going to happen."
On Monday the NAACP called on Barbour to condemn attempts by a Confederacy group to create the plate, which honors Forrest, a confederate general, slave trader and former KKK grand wizard. A Facebook group was also formed calling on the governor to denounce the effort.
Barbour is considered a likely candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, scheduling trips to early voting states and speaking at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
As a liberal from Portland, OR, I find the past actions of the Ku Klux Klan detestable. However, the US Constitution, and the most widely accepted precedent on Free Speech Rulings of Brandenburg V Ohio 1969 states that as long as free expression does not directly incite riot or crime (also see Schenck, Debs, classic Oliver Wendell Holmes rulings for older precedents: "Yelling fire in a crowded room"), it is protected under our first amendment rights. While it might not be the smartest thing to do from a political standpoint, the Governor and the State of Mississippi are certainly justified in printing this license plate. You can't just sweep the Ku Klux Klan under the rug. Tea Partiers will consider this a landmark breakthrough, but Liberals like myself should consider this a landmark breakthrough against censorship in the war for free thought.
And another year coming up without a Mississippi presidential candidate on a major party ticket...
This iguy is a joke. What do you expect from a person his age that does not recall any discrimination in his part of Mississippi when he was a child. This is another big fat llie that he telling.
You know, I am not a Barbour fan by any means but he is kind of "between a rock and a hard place" on this issue. I am less concerned that he doesn't denounce it than I would be if he endorsed it. If you have ever been to Mississippi you would realize that there are still many people there that still revere the Confederacy as if it still existed. He won't alienate that base (not just in his state but in the entire south), especially if he is considering a run for the Presidency. He is a politician, what do you expect...?
If he denounced the plate, the knights might cancel his invite to the next meeting.
Tells you what you need to know about another of the GOP"would be" candidates. A lic.plate to "honor" KKK and HE CANT SPEAK AGAINST IT!? Yep~~~
And this is surprising, why? Wouldn't condemning such an outrageous proposal but him at odds with the GOP "Southern Strategy?" With the budget cuts being proposed by the Tea Party-controlled GOP, haven't they pretty well written off the African-American vote? Isn't the GOP in the process of purging moderates? Isn't it obvious that the GOP has firmly established itself as the party of rich, white, Christian males? So what does he have to lose by tacitly going along with a KKK license plate?
Why would a racist denounce a racist?
It is beyond baffling to me that we have people in this country who have been elected to high office who STILL try to dance around the issue of the Civil War and its aftermath. To relegate that horror of a man formerly known as Nathan Bedford Forrest to an "historical figure" when asked his opinion of him, Haley pork-belly Barber chooses not to set things aright by denouncing the aforementioned domestic terrorist, racial supremacist and seditionist and helping to close some deep historical wounds; rather, he insists on avoiding the question entirely since he does not want to offend reactionary right wing groups in his quest for even higher office. If you think THIS remark is dismissive you ought to look up his other remark in which, having been asked to clarify his seemingly overly-idealistic views on what it was like to grow up in a segregated Mississippi, responded "well, life for me was good anyways" or something to that effect. Historical revisionism and right wing bury-your-head-in-the-sandism personified in this man.
Sorry, I misspelled his last name; it should be Barbour.
So much for his presidential run. It ended before it even got started.
They been posting the flag for years! what is the difference of people having the freaking tag on their license plate? As far as Haley Barbour denouncing anyone, he should excuse himself for running for president, defending a KKK member and allowing him to have a license plate tag, isn't he showing the American People that he is not out for the African American voter? what an idiot
He won't denouce it because he's proven again and again that he's a simple-minded bigot. This isn't news...
...and that type of dodging (and the lobbying on behalf of Mexico) means we are now seeing the end of Gov. Barbour's potential run for president. Which is good, because at this point there's not enough room in the field for all of the pandering and dodging from the other Republican candidates to be clearly heard and laughed at.
Of course he won't denounce that which he supports.
Barbour has no problem denouncing the President, but is above denouncing a founding member of the KKK. Sounds like hypocrisy to me. But then, Barbour is what he is.
Its hard to denounce a racist when your one of them. All you have to do is look under the sheet. If he gets in to the 2012 race he's braver than i thought he was.
Of course he will not denounce the plates as it is his BASE who are pushing for it. Plus, he never thought that the KKK was bad.
I don't see why he won't say "Hey, I don't agree with this, but the plate approval process doesn't go through my office."
Another confederacy sympethizer
I guess Barbour will not denounce anyone except if they are muslim.
Ahhh... Mississippi... you can join us in the 21st century anytime now!!!
He just killed any chance he had at the White House.
Gov.Barbour you said ""I don't go around denouncing people". Really, you seem to denounce president Obama often but you can't denouce a KKK figure. I guess it hard to denounce a leader or former leader of a group that you are a honorary member of..Your a fool to think you have a chance to win a election against president Obama because we have already had a memeber of your extended family try to win the Wh, remember David Duke?
2012 Presidential nominee? No thanks. Racists and people who promote racism deserve no part in this country' politics. I don't like republicans and the GOP anyway. For that matter, my allegiance go to supporting Obama for President, and Democrats for Congress. Republicans will ruin this country. we have seen what they done during George W. Bush's presidency. We can't let them do it again!
This will haunt his political future