An opposition research professional sent me this Nexis clip from Haley Barbour’s first gubernatorial campaign:
BYLINE: By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press Writer SECTION: State and Regional LENGTH: 645 words DATELINE: JACKSON, Miss. Republican gubernatorial nominee Haley Barbour says he will not ask for his picture to be removed from the national Web site of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The site for the St. Louis-based group features Confederate flags and has links to articles such as “In defense of racism” and offers books on why the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t deserve a national holiday and why Germany should be cleared of the “blood libel of the ‘Holocaust.”’ Barbour said in an interview Thursday that white supremacist and anti-Semitic views on the CCC site are “indefensible,” but he does not want to tell any group it cannot use his picture or statements. “Once you start down the slippery slope of saying ‘That person can’t be for me,’ then where do you stop?” Barbour said. “Old segregationists? Former Ku Klux Klan like (Sen.) Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)? You know?
I think the interesting point here is that Barbour wasn’t just stumbling blindly into subject matter he didn’t understand. He knew perfectly well that these groups were controversial, but he chose to praise their constructive influence on the his hometown anyway.
It’s worth noting that it would actually be surprising if Teenage Haley Barbour hadn’t been a white supremacist in the early 1960s. In January of 1964, Gallup found that the Civil Rights Act had a 71% approval rating among non-southern whites but just a 20% approval rating among white southerners. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for just kind of picking up the local conventional wisdom. But 40–50 years later, it’d be nice for him to show some understanding of what was happening.