During a candidate forum on Tuesday evening, South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton (R) said she’s “proud of the Confederacy” and vowed the state’s Confederate monuments would be preserved if she’s elected.
At one point during the forum, a man who identified himself as “a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans” told Templeton that “southern heritage is a very important issue to me.”
“I guess you’ve seen all the monuments being took down in Louisiana and all the anti-southern things going on, and I feel anti-southernism is not a conservative value,” he continued. “I’d like to know your opinion on southern heritage and southern defense.”
Templeton — a former South Carolina labor department director who was in the mix to be President Trump’s labor secretary and met with him last December — began her reply by saying, “Not on my watch.”
“You cannot rewrite history — I don’t care whose feelings it hurts,” she continued, before discussing how her family paid tribute to the Confederacy when she was a child.
“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants in South Carolina,” she continued. “And it’s why we are who we are and where we are, and I very much respect the men who gave their homes their fortunes and their lives to put us in this position. Fortunately we have a way too, you know, that protects us, and I’m sure it will be enforced.”
The “law” Templeton referred to requires two-thirds approval in the South Carolina legislature for any historical monument to be removed. She later said she’d support a law that would block the removal of monuments under any circumstances.
You can watch the aforementioned exchange at the 25:00 mark of this video:
As the Charleston Post and Courier details, Templeton was even more blunt later during the forum. “I’ve already said and mean it from the bottom of my heart that I’m proud to be from South Carolina, I’m proud of the Confederacy.”
At another point, Templeton was asked if she would’ve supported the successful efforts South Carolina lawmakers took in 2015 to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina Statehouse grounds after avowed racist Dylan Roof murder nine African Americans in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She dodged the question.
“I think what we did was we reacted,” she said. “I think that’s what happens in government a lot. We have an emergency, and we create a response because it’s the only thing we have control over.”
“I’m not going to second guess what the people in the Statehouse did when I wasn’t there,” she added. “I live in Charleston, and I drive by Mother Emanuel on a daily basis. And a bad person took something that’s dear to us, took our heritage and turned it into hate. And I think we acted as a result.”
Templeton is running to win the Republican nomination over incumbent governor Henry McMaster (R), who took after Nikki Haley left to become President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster has also generated race-related controversy this year — he decided to retain his membership to an all-white country club even after he became governor of a state that is more than 30 percent black.
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston chapter of the NAACP, told the Post and Courier that both candidates give her organization “heartburn.”
“We’re continuing the same mind set that brought us Dylann Roof,” Scott said. “Dylann Roof did not rewrite history. He was reflecting history the way it is.”