April 12th, 2010
12:07 PM ET
12 years ago

DNC: Barbour 'defended the indefensible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/11/art.barbouriso0411.cnn.jpg caption=" Gov. Haley Barbour's comments 'portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,' a spokesman for the DNC said Sunday."]
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.”

Sevugan added, “These comments are unacceptable and should be universally condemned in the strongest terms. A failure to do so will send a strong message to all Americans that Republicans endorse Governor Barbour's sentiments and are content not only to be left behind in another century, but that they deserve to be a small regional party in the permanent minority “

Last week, McDonnell announced that he was amending his proclamation to refer to slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”

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 last week.

Filed under: DNC • GOP • Haley Barbour • State of the Union
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. BeverlyNC

    Why Barbour would even open his mouth shows his stupidity. He is already known for being the most racist Governor from the most racist state in the country.

    These good ol' white boy Republicans just can't hide their true non-character and their endless hate that we have a very intelligent BLACK President who is doing an outstanding job. That might causes the blacks in their states to rise up and not "stay in their place".

    I am a southern white woman who knew from the first time I heard candidate Obama speak he was going to be our next President and his intelligence, demeanor, human decency, vision an compassion let me know he was going to be the greatest President since Kennedy and Johnson – men who stood up for the PEOPLE of America, who reached out to the poor, the second-class citizens and passed Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Medicare and also worked to move America to a new age of advancement and technology. We went to the moon. Computers were invented. Community service was encouraged and honorable. The Peace Corps was founded.

    President Obama is capable of all this greatness again. He saved the country from economic disaster. He sent stimulus money in to hire new police and fire personnel. Desperately needed infrastructure projects were done. Every state who took and wisely used the money proclaims its success. Our American auto industry was saved and is now back on its feet with millions of jobs saved and even more added.

    Just like Kennedy, the Obamas are promoting good health, exercise, and an effort to reduce the skyrocketing childhood obesity. Eating healthier foods and even a WH garden leads the way.

    We have HEALTHCARE which finally puts us up with other civilized nations who have had it for its citizens for many decades. We have always gone to other countries to provide healthcare but yet ignored the great need and shame of not having it here at home.

    Republicans have done enough damage to American this year with their hate, lies, fear-mongering, racism towards our President, and now the incitement of violence. They have NO American values I recognize and have betrayed our People and the very structure of our democracy. They are traitors in working against our government, our President, and our People.

    It's time to scream "ENOUGH" and remove these despicable, dishonorable Republicans from office. They do not represent America. They have shown they do not care about the People. They are again the regionalized land owners who want to protect their wealth and their supposed elitist place in our country. They side with greedy corporations, criminally negligent banks, and abusive insurance companies who kill you and I for more profit.

    Republicans represent the worst of America and we need to stop their endless negativity, lies,their dangerous propaganda from FOX, and reunite our People toward recovery of our nation, greatness and trustability among our Allies, and advancements in energy, medicine, and science.

    No more Republicans in elected office. They are hurting our country and holding us back. Get and stand up against their hate and lies. Get out and vote for Democrats who WILL work to SERVE THE PEOPLE and offer solutions to restore our country. Vote NO in November for every Republican running for elected office. We do not need their twisted values, anti-American attitudes, and shameful behavior any longer. Elect the LEADERS who have have been working hard for YOU this entire year – the Democratic Party!

    April 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Mike

    DNC – he was referring to the reaction of the public to McDonnell’s failure to include slavery in the proclamation of Confederate history month, NOT to the institution of slavery itself. Are you really that dense?!

    CNN, as always, outstanding journalism. Lately, it is difficult to distinguish your news organization from MSNBC.

    April 12, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. saddened

    Barbour's remarks are extremely offensive. This is akin to Holcoaust denial. How can these people just dismiss one of the most shameful aspects of U.S. history?

    April 12, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Honestly....

    It's an antiquated mindset that lives and breathes in this century. Shameful.

    April 12, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Marcus

    Barbour just declared (implicitly) that he misses the good old days before Rosa Parks, MLK and all those other brave men and women (following the path that was opened for them by other brave yet unknown to this days people) started to show to the US and the other how unfair and unconstitutional those 'days' were!

    April 12, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. RJ

    Once again, the GOP don't get it. Barbour is one of those tired old men that need to go home and shut up.

    April 12, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Doc

    As if it isn't bad enough.....

    It really pains me to think of this man as the chief executive of my home state......and he wants to be President?

    April 12, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Teo

    Governor Barbour has been a vocal critic of President Obama. He complained during this interview that the problem with the president's agenda is that he is spending too much. Meanwhile, in tv ads across parts of the South, Governor Barbour is featured extolling the virtues of Mississippi's new plan to SUBSIDIZE WAGESthrough the WIN job centers for companies that hire new employees in the state. Gosh, the state government in MS has enough taxpayer money to subsidize wages?? And enough money to pay for the tv ads promoting their free money?? Sounds like the right's definition of socialism is PROUD at work in Mississippi, all while they are screaming in front of a national audience that Obama is spending our money!

    April 12, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. maryland

    Shameless republicans. Eat maggots.

    April 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. Marcus

    Ops, I made a typo...
    The correct phrase is 'started to show to the US and the other COUNTRIES'.

    April 12, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Ken in NC

    The sad thing is that as a human being, Gov Barbour doesn't amount to diddly. He should be of greater value but because he has chosen to devalue the life of another human being and to indicate that the selling of human beings is or was insignificant has caused his value as a human being to drop to the level of diddly.

    April 12, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. elaine

    Republicans don't have much sympathy for gays either. They have sectioned off their constituents and don't want to bother including anyone else. They are white, over 40 and have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Anyone else need not apply for participation is this homogeneous club. The strong conservative Texas commission that selects school books, edits them to their whims and influences the books that have to be chosen in other states, thanks to sheer numbers of their buying powers, recently voted to mention that minorities in Texas have the majority to thank for accepting them into the fold of the political process. This is such a joke since the minorities in Texas had to fight to be included and had to bang on a lot of doors to receive access to government. The gay group, Log Cabin Republicans, who wanted to work from within the party to help bring about social change, are not allowed to enter the Texas Republican conventions. So much for access, but the Republicans will pat themselves on the back anyway.

    April 12, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. Craig of LA

    Once again we see the ugly, rotten and out of touch core of republicans, the party of intolerance and your bridge back to the 'good ole days of the past.' They again try to falsely assert that you can separate the confederacy and it's soldiers from the institution for which they fought to oreserve – slavery. Confederates were traitors, and they were evil for defending slavery. To celebrate and honor these despicable men is a moral outrage and offers firm proof of the Republican party's loss of it's moral compass. The party of 'Christian Values' has embraced hypocrisy and brough shame to America. America, wake up!

    April 12, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. Bob in Pa.

    Give it up already. We all know the history of slavery and we all know it was Republicans who defended freedom and are the main reason Civil Rights legislation was passed. It is almost humorus watching Democrats as they try to remove their own history and pin it on other people.

    April 12, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. 4 better than 2

    Just remember that politicians do not speak their minds (almost never) and every statement is very calculated and measured to reflect their constituency’s views. (Wilson’s “You Lie” is a good example, there was nothing spontaneous or accidental about it.) If your voters don’t think slavery was bad, than play it up and gain some votes.

    April 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. Brian

    I enjoy lambasting Republicans as much as the next guy. But when the DNC starts harping on this issue, they start sounding – to me – no better than Palin, Cornyn or the biggest blowhard of them all – Boehner.

    Neither Governor was advocating that slavery was in any manner a positive thing. I am a Northerner. I grew up in the 1960s with all the politically correct text books. But any reasonable student of history will realize that most Confederate soldiers did not own slaves and, indeed, came from States like Texas and Tennessee where slavery was not as common as in the cotton growing States. To say that these soldiers were fighting to keep slavery is just not true. And it is the exact reason that these proclamations and observances exist.

    Democrats need to move on. If they want to point out lunacy, they already have key Republicans stating that they will block the nomination of a Supreme Court justice who has not yet even been identified.

    April 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Emmanuel Goldstein

    Roland Martin says this for CNN: "And I will never, under any circumstances, cast Confederates as heroic figures who should be honored and revered. No - they were, and forever will be, domestic terrorists."

    Let's cut the crap and get to the point. We are in a cold civil war, and both sides are fighting over areas of culture, history, economics, and our everyday lives that we used to be in agreement on.

    Perhaps the best solution is secession. Let there be a red america and a blue america. And if the conservatives were smart, they'd secede first and let blue america keep the name, the problems, and the debt.

    April 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Justin - NC

    Keep talking GOP governors! This is exactly why Obama will be re-elected in 2012. You all thought the Presidency was safe, that America's power still rested firmly in the hands of whites, and it was white Americans who screamed "Race don't matter!" in South Carolina all the way to Jan. 20, 2009. Obama has nothing to fear, because Palin's going nowhere, Barbour is out saying slavery didn't mean diddly, Jindal already bombed with his Republican response, Gingrich is old news, RomneyCare is basically the blueprint for ObamaCare, and Pawlenty has plenty of time to screw up between now and 2012. Barack Obama/Joe "BFD" Biden 2012 for the win!

    April 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Phil in VA

    As a Virginian and Southerner, I think it was right for the governor to re-establish Confederate History month. Like it or not, the Confederacy is a big part of Southern heritage. However, I do think he did err by leaving out mention of slavery and how that too played a part in that same history. Slavery played nearly a 250 year part of the American history and it was an evil that deserves mention. The governor, however, did fix this ommision and I feel that is completely satisfactory. And for those equating the Confederacy to that of the Nazi's and the Holocaust, they are not one and the same or even close. Sorry.

    April 12, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. Progressive Texan

    The causes for the Civil War were complex and had been brewing for decades. The abolition of slavery was an important factor, but not the only one. However, it's a huge mistake not to condemn the institution of slavery. The people who want to glorify the Confederate soldier fail to recognize that these soldiers were fighting to maintain a reprehensible economic system. Moreover, they want to revise history and teach us that the North actually stated the Civil War. By their standards, I guess we also started WWII (at least in Europe) by invading the beaches at Normandy. The South started the war. The South lost the war. What is there to celebrate about this?

    April 12, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. dave

    Wow. Given the choice between saying nothing (the right choice) and saying something (the totally wrong choice) Barbour totally made the wrong choice. What an astute politician. Did he flunk Politics 101 or does he think he is so untouchable that this wouldn't be noticed?

    Republicans keep pandering to their base (right wing nuts and hard line conservatives). They forget what that got them in 2008. That may work in individual piddly congressional elections (Bachmann is an excellent example) but it never works in a senate or national level. George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama all knew it. None of the current republican candidates have grasped that concept.

    April 12, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Robert

    I think Press Secretary Sevugan is the one out of touch with reality. Barbour is right, this is a case of making a big deal out of something that doesn't really amount to anything. There are already a few states that already have the same holiday on their books. To me this is nothing but the same issue as the rebel flag. A flag mind you, that was not the Confederacy's flag but its battle flag. A flag that the simple man that was fighting for states rights, a flag that yes, numerous African AMericans fought under as well.

    April 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. MikeH

    Haley Barbour is the biggest piece of tater-faced Republican fecal waste EVER.

    April 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. seldon

    He was saying that the omission from the governor's remarks was not a big deal, not that slavery wasn't a big deal.

    If the Democrats are finally going to get tough and call the Republicans out on how they act against the best interests of their constituents, they have a nearly infinite amount of material to work with. Why do they choose groundless sensationalism? While that may work wonderfully to ensnare the mind of the right-leaning voter, and may be all he needs to form his convictions - indeed an escape from reason and critical logic may be what he demands - I would hope that the left would hold their discourse to higher standards.

    April 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. Rush is to far left

    Dems and Blacks need to get off the entitlement bandwagon. There is no one alive today that owned slaves or was a slave. It is the past, get over it. Reparations for slavery is just lazy greedy black people wanting something they do not deserve for nothing, and Dems want to give it to them. If you can find any slaves still alive, then that person deserves something. The rest of you lazy black people, I'm not talking about the hard working ones, only deserve a ticket back to Africa since you don't like this country so much.

    April 12, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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