‘Morning Joe’ Repeatedly Presses Fmr. Gov Haley Barbour on Confederate Flag

Barbour eventually said that neither Mississippi’s flag nor the Confederate Flag offends him

BRZEZINSKI: “Joining us now, former Mississippi governor, former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour. Good to have you on the show Haley.”

BARBOUR: “Thank you, Mika.”

BRZEZINSKI: “First of all, what do you think of Nikki Haley‘s decision, change of heart about the Confederate flag in her state?”

BARBOUR: “Well I think the important thing it is South Carolina’s decision. And South Carolinians who have came together. I’ve saw pictures in the papers this morning. It’s not just Governor Haley but former governors, United States senators, members of Congress, members of the legislature. And that's who ought to decide how they're going to decorate their state capitol ground. And that’s their decision, should be their decision.”

SCARBOROUGH: “Haley, it’s pretty remarkable when you look at the press conference. Here you are in South Carolina, the heart of Dixie. Other than Mississippi, Alabama, of course. But South Carolina, the heart of Dixie and here you have an Indian-American governor, Republican, standing next to black Republican, U.S. senator, and you actually saw in that press conference yesterday how much the Republican Party in the deep south is changing.”

BARBOUR: “Well, that's right. All over the country that matter. But particularly in the south. But I thought also important about the picture, there are a number of Democrats in the picture. Black and white. And this is a way big changes ought to be made. People work together. Decide what's the right thing to do. You know, about 15 years ago in Mississippi, there was an effort just change our state flag. And they put it to a referendum and it failed. That’s going to be re -- as you mentioned, that's going to be talked about again. And the decision belongs rightly to the people of Mississippi.”

ROBINSON: “What would be – governor, Eugene Robinson -- What would be your view on that question, as to whether it’s time to retire that symbol?”

BARBOUR: “I stated my view, Gene, very -- it’s up to the people of Mississippi. When we did this before, I did not make a public statement about this. I had been national party chairman, been Republican National Chairman and I thought anything that I said would be considered, ‘That’s the Republican position.’ And there were Republicans who were very involved in wanting to change the flag. And there were Republicans who were very involved in not wanting to change the flag but as you see our speaker of the House who is in the middle of this and is rightly part of the decision making, has already come forward and said, ‘hey, this is something we got to take up and figure out how to deal with it.’”

BARNICLE: “So governor, you are no longer governor. What’s Haley Barbour’s position on it? What’s your position on it, personally, as a resident of Mississippi? Personally what’s your position?”

BARBOUR: “I’m not offended at all by our flag or the Confederate flag for that matter, but some people are. And the ones who have to deal in Congress, the ones that have to deal in the legislature, the ones that have to deal in the county governments, they’re the ones who ought to take the leadership, not the has-beens. You know, the last thing a governor wants to hear is well the old governor said we ought to do so and so.” (Laughter)

BARNICLE: “Governor, you know, you're not a has-been. We all know you're not a has-been. There was a poll taken in Mississippi about six weeks ago and 50 percent of the people in Mississippi said that they would vote for secession if there's another war between the states. Fifty percent. And you say leave it to the people? What is your position, though? Haley Barbour’s position?”

BARBOUR: “My position is anybody that believes those kind of polls needs to learn more about polling. I would be very interested in who took such a poll and what the question really was. Because I don't anymore believe that than the man in the moon.”

BRZEZINSKI: “OK. So Mike, let me try it this way. Haley Barbour, I got to tell you, it just sort of seems a little bit like a cop out to leave it to others to decide. Either you have an opinion in your heart or you don’t.”

BARBOUR: “Well, in my heart, I have this to say to you, while I was governor of Mississippi, Mississippi became the only state in the country to use state money, taxpayers money to build a civil rights museum. We’re building a civil rights museum in Mississippi to commemorate, to celebrate the civil rights movement in our state. And when the Freedom Riders of 1961 came to Mississippi in 2011 for their 50th anniversary, we had an event for them at the governor’s mansion at which time I apologized to them for the way that they were treated. And told them what we were doing with the civil rights museum which I think they were very, very proud of. Mississippi has a higher percentage of its African-American adults registered to vote than New York where you’re sitting. We’re proud of that record. We’re proud of the change that’s happened in Mississippi in my lifetime. And that's why we're building this civil rights museum, because we want people to see the bad that happened, so that doesn’t ever happen again. And we want them to see the progress that we have made. And I saw that same kind of progress in South Carolina.”

SCARBOROUGH: “It is remarkable.”

BRZEZINSKI: “It is.”

BARBOUR: “It is remarkable.”

BRZEZINSKI: “Haley, just shouldn’t – thank you -- shouldn’t that flag be in that museum?”

BARBOUR: “Will be.”

BRZEZINSKI: “OK.”

BARBOUR: “Flag will be in that museum.”

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