Barbour announces he won't denounce
February 15th, 2011
08:33 PM ET
12 years ago

Barbour announces he won't denounce

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.

Filed under: Haley Barbour • Mississippi
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Josh

    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.


    February 16, 2011 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  2. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    And another year coming up without a Mississippi presidential candidate on a major party ticket...

    February 16, 2011 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  3. Hotdog

    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.

    February 16, 2011 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  4. Jimbo (The Real One)

    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...?

    February 16, 2011 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  5. Admiralj

    If he denounced the plate, the knights might cancel his invite to the next meeting.

    February 16, 2011 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  6. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    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~~~

    February 16, 2011 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  7. Freddy

    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?

    February 16, 2011 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  8. The Dude

    Why would a racist denounce a racist?

    February 16, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  9. Dan Smith

    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.

    February 16, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  10. Dan Smith

    Sorry, I misspelled his last name; it should be Barbour.

    February 16, 2011 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  11. Mickey, NY

    So much for his presidential run. It ended before it even got started.

    February 16, 2011 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  12. NJfinest2009

    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

    February 16, 2011 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  13. Dave

    He won't denouce it because he's proven again and again that he's a simple-minded bigot. This isn't news...

    February 16, 2011 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  14. galfridus73

    ...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.

    February 16, 2011 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  15. Ben Ben

    Of course he won't denounce that which he supports.

    February 16, 2011 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  16. WayneK

    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.

    February 16, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  17. nitro

    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.

    February 16, 2011 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  18. Kathy

    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.

    February 16, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  19. U.S. Common Sense

    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."

    February 16, 2011 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  20. Da

    Another confederacy sympethizer

    February 16, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  21. tylerkad

    I guess Barbour will not denounce anyone except if they are muslim.

    Ahhh... Mississippi... you can join us in the 21st century anytime now!!!

    February 16, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  22. John N Florida

    He just killed any chance he had at the White House.

    February 16, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  23. Realistic

    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?

    February 16, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  24. Reaper081087

    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!

    February 16, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  25. steve

    This will haunt his political future

    February 16, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
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