COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Republican running for South Carolina governor has been accused of sympathizing with the Confederacy because of comments she made about her ancestors to a college crowd.
Democrats on Friday took Catherine Templeton to task for telling a crowd at Bob Jones University that her relatives fought on behalf of the Confederacy not to protect slavery but because “the federal government was trying to tell us how to live.”
“We didn’t need them to tell us how to live way back then, and we don’t need them to tell us how to live today,” Templeton told the crowd of mostly students.
On Friday, Democrats including former state party Chairman Jaime Harrison criticized Templeton, accusing her of “romanticizing the Civil War.” Bakari Sellers, a former Democratic state representative and nominee for lieutenant governor, asked his Twitter followers, “How should we start Black History Month? … Let’s go to Bob Jones and tout the Confederacy.”
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Leon Stavrinakis, a Democratic state representative, tweeted that Templeton “has said some terrible things already this campaign but to say that the federal intervention to end slavery, segregation & government sanctioned discrimination was wrong is utterly despicable.”
Templeton caught flak last year when, during a Pickens County GOP meeting, she said she supported state lawmakers’ efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds after a deadly shooting by a man who embraced the flag, but was still proud of the state’s Confederate history.
“I think what we did was we reacted, and I think that’s what happens in government a lot,” Templeton told the audience. “I am proud to be from South Carolina. I am proud of the Confederacy. But I’m not going to second-guess what the people in the Statehouse did when I wasn’t there.”
On Friday night, Templeton — a labor lawyer who served as South Carolina’s former labor and public health chief — refused to apologize for her family’s past, telling The Associated Press on Friday night that any efforts to portray her as a slavery sympathizer are “disingenuous, dishonest and disgusting.”
“The past cannot be changed, but we can learn from it,” Templeton told AP. “In speaking to students, I simply acknowledged my family’s story, warts and all.”
Templeton is challenging Gov. Henry McMaster for the GOP nomination. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill are also competing in the June 12 primary election.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.