December 6th, 2007
02:29 PM ET
15 years ago

Confederate flag supporters protest Thompson

Jim Hanks was one of several protesters greeting Fred Thompson Wednesday night.

LEXINGTON, South Carolina (CNN) - Eight Confederate flag-waving men protested outside a Fred Thompson campaign stop Wednesday evening, one week after Thompson and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized the flag during the CNN/YouTube debate in Florida.

Clad in jackets bearing the Confederate flag and holding signs reading "South Carolina hates Fred Thompson" and "Fred Thompson go home," the protesters said Thompson was not a "true southerner."

Jim Hanks, chairman of the South Carolina League of the South, said that Thompson's answer at the debate was worse than Romney's because Thompson is from a southern state.

"He's masquerading as a good ole boy," Hanks said.

Asked about the flag during last week's debate, Thompson said that, "as far as a public place is concerned, I am glad that people have made the decision not to display it as a prominent flag, symbolic of something, at a state capital."

But the former Senator from Tennessee qualified his statement: "As a part of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring various service people at different times in different parts of the country, I think that's different."

The Confederate flag on display at the South Carolina Statehouse waves next to the Confederate soldier monument there.

"The flag stands right next to the Confederate Memorial on the capitol grounds, honoring, as Fred says, the 'various service people at different times and different parts of the country,'" said Thompson spokesman Todd Harris after the debate.

Romney was more blunt.

"That flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown," he said.

Don Gordon from Columbia, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was one of the protesters on Wednesday.

"Both Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney made derogatory comments about the Confederate flag, and we don't think people should come to the South and try to get our votes and then wipe their feet on the Confederate flag to kiss up to voters in other parts of the country," he said.

In the course of about ten minutes after Thompson's event ended, nearly a dozen passing cars honked and waved in support of the small demonstration.

One man was carrying a sign calling Thompson a "carpetbagger," but when he realized Thompson is from Tennessee, he put it away.

The Thompson campaign views South Carolina as a must win for the former Tennessee senator. While down in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, he remains a frontrunner in this early-voting southern state that serves as a crucial test of a candidate's conservative mettle.

An AP/Pew poll of likely Republican voters released this week shows a three-way dead heat for first place in South Carolina, with Thompson coming in at 18 percent, just one point behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who are tied at 19 percent.

Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for the Thompson campaign, told reporters in an email that “South Carolina voters know where Senator Thompson stands on the issue, and that's what's important.”

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Hawk,Texas

    It never ceases to amaze me how many stupid people are out there. you all need to go back and read the history of the civil war, and the reason it was fought. read and learn.

    December 6, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. Mike USMC 95-99

    NANDO,PALM COAST,FL is an idiot who does not know his history. The states have the right to succeed under the U.S constitution as long as the people of the state vote for it. There was a vote and those individual states succeeded. Lincoln violated the constitution by going to war. And don't forget the southerners who were raped and had their property burned to the ground by federal troops.

    Posted By Tom, Orlando, Fl : December 6, 2007 3:07 pm

    the problem with southerns is that they are ignorant...

    Show us where in the Constitution there is a clause for succession??

    December 6, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  3. Bob, Roxboro, NC


    How so many people insist that the ONLY thing that the Confederate flag represents is bigotry and slavery stuns me.
    Don't look now, but the war between the States was about MONEY,,,just like every war! The south had an agricultural economy while the north had an industrial economy. The cessation of slavery was only one tool used by the north to preserve the Union's status quo.
    The south merely wanted self determination. (As I do in this century,,,,poor me, how likely is that?)

    December 6, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. Jonathan, Danville, VA

    Last time I checked slavery started in the North in Mass. not in the South. The first African Americans to the US landed in Virginia and were FREE.

    Also, last time I checked the American Flag also flew on the slave ships bound for America from the African Slave Coast.

    For all of the northerners who like to complain about the south and the southern states being backwards. The last time I checked Southern Reconstruction failed. U.S. Grant was a drunkard with a worthless cabinet.

    On the otherhand, the south (Virginia) produced more Presidents than any other region, and these Presidents are the ones we all revere and admire and wish more people were like.

    So I don't think the South sucks so bad. We all were in this slavery thing together so don't shove it just on us down here.

    December 6, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. John Lee Dugger Jacksonville, Florida

    First of all, these "protesters" have
    NO idea what the Confederate really is.
    The flag in the picture is the battle
    flag of Northern Virginia. The real
    Confederate flag is the "Stars and Bars." One flag in another picture of the "protesters," was a square battle flag whick was the Naval Battle Flag of
    the Confederates. In my state of Florida the background was white with
    the "stars,(States)" were within the Cross of St. Andrews. I laugh when I see the battle flag of "Northern Virginia" being used as the Confederate

    December 6, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. Walt, Belton, TX

    There sure is a lot of historic ignorance in these United States. The flag, whether it be revered or abhored by the individual, is what the individual believes. To each his own.

    December 6, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  7. John G. Charleston SC

    I think the only people who find the flag divisive and or racist are the people who were never educated enough to understand it and or who want a hand out. The flag is a symbol of STATES RIGHTS not slavary. It's part of our history.

    I understand that some find it offensive, but frankly I find it offenseive when any minority says they can't succeed at something because the "man" is keeping them down. I find it offensive that no one has a problem with blanket statements about all white people being racist but if I wear an article of clothing bearing a Confederate Battle Flag or put one on my truck I may as well be up on charges for hate crimes.

    December 6, 2007 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. Jim in Orlando, FL

    John in Memphis writes:

    Jim in Orlando, you must be under the age of 30 and reading the standard revisionist history taught in public schools. The Confederacy did not fight to save the institution of slavery nor did the Union fight to abolish slavery. Check your history. Lincoln did not issue the Emancipation Proclamation until 1863 or two years after the fighting started. The Cofederacy was ready to free slaves in order to garner support for their war effort from European allies. This war was fought for the same reasons that the American Revolution was fought which was in the fewest words can be explained as taxation without representation. The industrialized North was in favor of limiting imports of manufactured goods from Europe through tariffs and the South sufferred from the tariffs placed on exported agriculture goods (cotton). Protectionist policies of the North hurt southern business. Jim in Orlando, you are either ignorant or not a conservative.

    Posted By John,Memphis, TN : December 6, 2007 2:52 pm

    In your dreams John. I'm 52 BTW. The north fought because Lincoln chose to preserve the Union. The South seceded after years of friction, grossly apparent with the Compromise of 1850, the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas Nebraska act, John Brown's raid, and many other examples. While there were other issues, as noted by another poster, the issue of slavery's existence and expansion, and the ability of the Federal Government to impede it, was debate #1. While Lincoln's decision to make the Emancipation Proclamation did not occur until 1863, it was not because the issue had not been the leading factor for the South's departure. Rather, there were two prevailing factors by 1863 1) He heeded to pick a time when the North was more receptive to the concept of a free black man as a cause to fight, and more importantly 2) he did not have the Constutional authority to just proclaim the slaves as "free". Rather, as commander in Chief, since the south was using slaves to build defenses, he used his power as Commander in Chief to declare the Confederate State slaves (not northern) as free, and not a tool of the Confederate defense. To disagree is one thing Johnny, but to call me "ignorant" is to show your familiarity with that state of being. Next.

    December 6, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  9. Teddy Bancroft

    to display the flag in any capacity other than an historical reference is a call to racism.

    December 7, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  10. John, Chicago

    The Confederate flag is wrong, but it's not a symbol of racism. It's a symbol of treason, pure and simple. I've never understood how some Southerners can consider themselves patriotic and display this flag.

    December 7, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  11. Matthew, Seneca SC

    The flag is flying over a battlefield. Look at the side of the building and you will see the evidence. Oh wait, how many of you speaking here have ever set foot in SC? Honestly, I see it as none of your business. It is something for the citizens of South Carolina to deal with. So everyone from Alaska to Flordia and Maine to California, stick to your own business and we here in South Carolina will stick to ours.

    December 7, 2007 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  12. Joey, Wasilla, Alaska

    The Confedorate flag is a symbol of hate, and racsism. PERIOD. How those idiototic, inbred, blindly-loyal old guys can proudly where it while protesting is simpley beyond my capability of understanding.

    December 7, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  13. mark wilkes barre pa

    If memory serves me correctly, Black americans were still fighting for total rights and freedoms up into the 1960's,,,History repeats,repeats, repeats,repeats,repeats,, the civil war long over and a flags meaning long forgotten and perverted , did not change the fact that a mind set is a hard thing to change, many americans dems/reps are guilty to this very day of the same mind set.

    December 7, 2007 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  14. John Anderson MA

    This article has been edited. I read this same article elsewhere and it said that this same group is now supporting Ron Paul. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

    December 7, 2007 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  15. Michael Arnaud-Glen Burnie, MD.

    Since noone checks their history, The Stars and Bars, or the Confederate Flag also called the Battle Banner, isn't the "true" Confederate Flag. That is the Bonnie Blue. That flag is a solid blue filed with a single white star in the center. I'm suprised more 'southners' don't know that. By the way, for Mr. Romney, the only reason the Battle Banner is so loathed by people not from the south, is because unfortunetly, it became a symbol for the KKK and other hate groups. Like I said, people need to read up on their history.

    December 7, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. Marc, Lafayette CA

    South Carolina Hates Fred Thompson?

    Newsflash for you: SO DO THE OTHER 49 STATES.

    When is this guy going to get a clue and drop out?

    December 7, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Nickie, Buffalo, N.Y

    Whether you believe the flag is racists or not. One thing is clear. The confederate flag is the flag of traitors. The south lost bottom line. And anyone that fly’s the flag of traitors should be ashamed.

    December 7, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Brandon, Tampa, FL

    "Clad in jackets bearing the Confederate flag and holding signs reading "South Carolina hates Fred Thompson" and "Fred Thompson go home," the protesters said Thompson was not a "true southerner.""
    Oh, the No True Scotsman fallacy. Even funnier in person!

    Oh, and even though Fred is a horrible candidate, I've got to give Fred some credit for this. I don't mind if people fly the Confederate flag on their car or in their home, but please keep it out of state capitals.

    December 7, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. bryce, Portland, OR

    A guy who has no chance of winning the nomination, being protested by EIGHT PEOPLE, about something that only matters to idiots. This is not news, please try again.

    December 7, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. roger, conway sc

    Why does anyone care how any candidate feels about a flag other than the American Flag "Ole Glory". I don not understand how someone can make their decision on a candidate based on how he feels about any other flag. It is just like the religious right,they only support someone who will spit out their conservative message...look what happened last time GW....

    December 7, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Claudette, TX

    I am sick and tired of you ignorant fools saying that the North won and the South lost.

    How could a nation fighting against it's own fathers and brothers on it's own soil, killing Americans on American soil, EVER be a victory for any side?

    NO ONE WON. Those that say one side won and the other side lost are despicable, ignorant and inhumane. Good grief....GROW UP!

    Put the flag in a museum where it belongs. The MOST that it should remind us of is what we as a nation were willing to do to make a point to each other. It was a senseless and ignorant war.

    We are all AMERICANS NOW!

    December 7, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Scott Bell, Jacksonville, Texas

    Why did the people of the great state of Mississippi overwhelmingly vote to retain their beautiful state flag which the Confederate emblem is prominent? Many black citizens voted in support of the state flag. The answer is because the flag represents southern history and heritage.
    Every poll I've ever seen and there have been many supports the Confederate flag. Google it!
    I personally do not give a rat's petunia what some self-rightous yankee or southern scalawag thinks about the Confederate flag.

    December 8, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. Lourie Salley, Salley, SC

    Men of both regions killed millions of Native Americans with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.I'm not sure where Terry gets this wierd idea. The Cherokee and Oklahoma tribes were Confederates. Stand Waite, the Cherokee General, was the last Confederate General to surrender his command. The "Indian Wars" were fought by Yankees like Sheridan, Kilpatrick, Custer, under the administration of Grant. The Yankees used the same genocidal strategy against the Western Plains Indians that they used against South Carolina. Southrons do not bear that guilt.

    December 18, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  24. billy

    I have been readin these comments on this and i have to say that this just shows that the people of this country are in need of serious education of the southern cause and not the doctrination of the Union oppressors ...what the union did was to take this country and turn it back into what our founding fathers broke away from ...a monarchy...and we became a little england once were on the brink of collapse because of our world polotics and the beauracrats..go figure...and i will be supprised to see this posted because i support the sout and the confederate cause...we'll

    December 19, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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