Also speaking up for the Confederate flag: Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was asked about it by ABC News. Jindal indicated he thought flying the Confederate flag was a states' rights issue:Not sure when Bobby thinks the time might be right seeing as how they've been talking about it for decades already.
Look, the states decide that — and, again, just like with the gun issue, let's have that debate at the right time. I mean, right now we should all be in mourning. I think flags should be at half-mast, you know, across our states, across our country. Now's a time for mourning.
“It’s like getting political Ebola,” said David Woodard, a longtime Republican political consultant and professor of political science at Clemson University, of the Confederate flag issue. “Any time you touch it you’re going to make more enemies than friends.”Fifteen years ago they decided the time wasn't right to do away the flag. Just needed some time for "the healing" to happen. Did the healing happen?
Woodard recalled the hard-fought battle in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the NAACP announced a boycott on tourism to the Palmetto State in protest of the flag and the issue became part of the national conversation during the Republican presidential primary between John McCain and George W. Bush.
Then-Gov. David Beasley lost reelection in 1998, in part because of his campaign to take down the Confederate flag, Woodard said.
“It was just a very, very tense situation, and you weren’t going to come up with a solution that was going to make everybody happy,” Woodard said.
Tens of thousands of people marched on the Capitol to protest the flag, and several thousand others from the Sons of Confederate Veterans stood on the statehouse steps — in uniform, Woodard said.
State Rep. Rick Quinn, who was the majority leader of the state House of Representatives at the time, said the fierce debate made for strange bedfellows: In an effort to stall a compromise, members of the black caucus who wanted to exorcise the flag from the Capitol grounds joined forces with lawmakers who refused to vote to have it removed from atop its dome.
After months of debate and a final marathon session, Republican leaders wrought the compromise that hard-liners on both sides had feared: The flags hanging on the dome and in each of the legislative chambers would be moved to the state museum, and a new one would be erected on a 30-foot flagpole at the Confederate war memorial outside the statehouse.
But any other changes to the monument — or any other in the state — would require the two-thirds vote, and South Carolina does not have a robust voter referendum system, so a ballot initiative could not overturn the law.