Opinion Brief

Rick Perry's Confederate flag 'flip-flop': Bad move?

The Texas governor, once a defender of symbols of the Old South, says his state shouldn't approve special license plates bearing the controversial flag

Some Southerners believe the Confederate flag represents their proud heritage, while others insist that the flag glorifies slavery and racism. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a history of siding with the former group and opposing the removal of Confederate symbols. But now the aspiring GOP presidential candidate is changing his tune. Perry told a Florida radio station this week that he's against a proposal to offer license plates emblazoned with the Confederate flag in his state. "We don't need to be scraping old wounds," he said. Will this help Perry appeal to mainstream voters, or cost him votes in the South?

This reversal could hurt Perry's chances: Perry may have "just dug himself a hole," says Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. Many Republicans in South Carolina — a critical early primary state that Perry needs to win — will see his Confederate flag "flip-flop" as "pandering." Remember, the Confederate battle flag still flies at the South Carolina state House, and many voters there bristle when people suggest that it evokes racism."Rick Perry's Confederate symbol flip-flop is gonna be a problem in South Carolina"

But Perry had no choice: The Texan is struggling to save his candidacy after a string of "missteps and awful debate performances," says Tod Robberson in The Dallas Morning News. And, remember, one factor that contributed to his decline was a Washington Post report that his hunting camp once "carried the name 'Niggerhead.'" Perry clearly decided he had to distance himself from the Confederate flag "to remain a viable candidate." "Rick Perry makes a tough choice: No stars 'n' bars license plates"

Can we talk about some real issues now? Perry wants to get the "clueless national media" to see beyond its "anachronistic, Dukes of Hazzard view of the South," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson tells the Houston Chronicle. If he succeeds, maybe reporters will pay more attention to Perry's tax plan and foreign policy. Perry probably doesn't care one way or another about the license plate, he's just "smartly trying to say, 'Let's talk about something else, guys.'""Perry wants to put Confederate license plate issue to rest"

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