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Huckabee Embraces Confederate Flag to Seduce White Evangelical Voters

The emergence of the confederate flag as an issue--if past elections are a guide, holds the possibility of inflicting damage on McCain.
 
 
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Columbia, S. Car. -- The populist campaign of Mike Huckabee, seeking to mobilize an insurgency of white evangelicals against the Republican establishment, took an abrupt turn today after the former Arkansas governor directly appealed to voters on the issue of race, summoning his fellow candidates to stop calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from government offices.

"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. ... If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole. That's what we'd do," he declared to applause at a campaign rally in Myrtle Beach Thursday.

At the same time, an Atlanta, Georgia, based organization, Americans for the Preservation of American Culture, began running radio ads attacking John McCain for his opposition to displays of the Confederate flag on public buildings and praising Huckabee.

"McCain has been doing it -- calling the flag a racist symbol -- for years," the announcer declares. "After McCain, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stands as a breath of fresh air. Governor Huckabee understands that all the average guy with a Confederate flag on his pickup truck is saying is, he's proud to be a Southerner." The ad concludes: "In South Carolina, we're proud to be Southerners."

Thomas B. Edsall is the political editor of the Huffington Post. He is also Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

 
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