Sons of Confederate Veterans is calling Republican presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney "scalawags and carpetbaggers" for their criticism of the Confederate battle flag during the CNN/YouTube Republican debate:
The group issued a statement Friday that said the road to the White House hits a dead end when candidates "smear the good name of our Southern ancestors."
Romney and Thompson were asked whether the Confederate flag represents the symbol of racism, a symbol of political ideology, a symbol of Southern heritage -- or, is it something completely different?
Romney's answer was awful. He said he doesn't recognize the stars and bars flag and managed to disrespect and disparage an important symbol, a version of which, still flies on the grounds of the South Carolina capital:
Romney: Right now, with the kinds of issues we got in this country, I'm not going to get involved with a flag like that. That's not a flag that I recognize so that I would hold up in my room.
The people of our country have decided not to fly that flag. I think that's the right thing.
My own view is that this country can go beyond that kind of stuff, and that instead we can do as a party what we need to do, which is to reach out to all Americans.
Every time I listen to someone like John Edwards get on TV and say there are two Americans, I just want to -- I just want to throw something at the TV, because there are not two Americas. There's one America.
We are a nation united. We face extraordinary challenges right now. And Democrats dividing us and tearing down this country are doing exactly the wrong thing.
We're succeeding in Iraq. We've got tough challenges. We can overcome them. But we do not need to have that kind of divisive talk. And that flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown.
Thompson was much more respectful, but probably upset some Southerners:
Thompson: I know that everybody who hangs the flag up in their room like that is not racist. I also know that for a great many Americans it's a symbol of racism.
So, therefore, as a public place -- he's free to do whatever he wants to in his home. 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 capitol. As a part of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring various servicepeople at different times in different parts of the country, I think that's different.
Here's the video of the CNN/YouTube Republican debate Question 31 - What does the "stars and bars" flag represent?:
Inclusion of this question is evidence of CNN's intent to ambush the Republican Presidential candidates. What purpose does raising the Confederate battle flag serve other than to remind voters of the 2000 controversy that helped defeat John McCain? Could it be to support Hillary's position?
Romney and Thompson aren't the scalawags and carpetbaggers here.
On a brief fundraising swing through Arizona, Thompson said it makes sense to have sworn officers working "in cooperation with the federal authorities."
"I've been places where they're working hand-in-glove," the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" star said. "That's the ideal way to do it."
Thompson told reporters he's not concerned that putting local police in the position of trying to determine who is in this country illegally might lead to racial profiling "any more with that kind of cooperation than otherwise."
During the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate Thompson got in his licks by chiding former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about what he said has been that city's "sanctuary" policies. CNN/YouTube question number 3 was posed was directed to Thompson:
Good evening. There are thousands of people in Canada and Mexico waiting to come to America legally. They want to become American citizens. They want to be part of the American dream. Yet, there are those in the Senate that want to grant amnesty for those that come here illegally.
Will you pledge tonight, if elected president, to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come here illegally?
Cooper: Senator Thompson?
Thompson: Yes, I pledge that. A nation that cannot and will not defend its own borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation. And it's unfair...
We have -- we have thousands of people standing in line at embassies around the world to become United States American citizens, to come here to get a green card, to come here and to assimilate and be a part of our culture. They are part of what has made our country great. Some of our better citizens. We all know them and love them.
Now, it's our country together -- their's and ours, now together. It's our home. And we now get to decide who comes into our home.
And to place somebody above them or in front of them in line is the wrong thing to do.
We've got to strengthen the border. We've got to enforce the border. We've got to punish employers -- employers who will not obey the law. And we've got to eliminate sanctuary cities and say to sanctuary cities, if you continue this, we're going to cut off federal funding for you, you're not going to do it with federal money.
Now, there are parts of what both of these gentlemen have just said that I would like to associate myself with.
First of all, of course, Governor Romney supported the Bush immigration plan until a short time ago. Now he's taken another position, surprisingly.
As far as Mayor Giuliani is concerned, I am a little surprised the mayor says, you know, everybody's responsible for everybody that they hire, but we'll have to address that a little bit further later. I think we've all had people probably that we have hired that in retrospect probably is a bad decision.
He did have a sanctuary city. In 1996, I helped pass a bill outlawing sanctuary cities. The mayor went to court to overturn it. So, if it wasn't a sanctuary city, I'd call that a frivolous lawsuit.
Giuliani was allowed to respond:
Giuliani: New York City was not a sanctuary city. New York City did three exceptions. The three exceptions were to allow children to go to school, to allow those illegal immigrants who were the victims of crime to report the person who assaulted them, beat them up, mugged them.
And third, to allow emergency care in the hospitals, which we were required to do by federal law. We had a policy of reporting every single illegal immigrant other than those three who commit any kind of crime or were suspected of crime, and we reported thousands of them to immigration service. Few of them were deported.
McCain was asked to address the same question and came off as much more compassionate:
McCain: You know, this whole debate saddens me a little bit because we do have a serious situation in America. In 1986, we passed a law that said we would enforce our borders, and gave amnesty to a couple of million people. We gave the amnesty. Now we have 12 million people and still borders that are not enforced.
I came to the Senate not to do the easy things, but to do the hard things. Mel Martinez and I knew this was going to be a tough issue, but we thought the status quo was unacceptable: broken borders; 12 million people here illegally; a need for a temporary worker program, certainly in my state in the agricultural section, certainly in this state of Florida.
And we tried to get something done. We said we'd enforce the borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our failures in reining in corruption and out of control spending.
So we tried and we failed. And I appreciate the president's efforts. He comes from a border state too. And what we've learned is that the American people want the borders enforced. We must enforce the -- secure the borders first.
But then you've still got two other aspects of this issue that have to be resolved as well. And we need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God's children as well.
I don't disagree with McCain. But I strongly agree with Fred. State and local police should help enforce immigration laws, we must control the border and end the sanctuary policies that some cities, such as New Haven and San Francisco have adopted.
You can watch the exchange between Thompson, Giuliani and McCain in the following video:
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's response to a question asking about funding space exploration generated cheers from the audience:
Maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.
More seriously, Huckabee said he supported expanding the space program because of how it has dramatically improved our lives:
Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.[From the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate transcript]
Tancredo was dismissive of sending Americans to Mars:
We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them.