ABC News’ Kevin Chupka Reports: In what was an apparent attempt to woo conservative votes in South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee began speaking today about the state’s flag. At an event in Myrtle Beach on Thursday Huckabee told supporters gathered in an airplane hangar, "You don’t want anyone from out of state comin’ down and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag we’d tell them where to put the pole."
The comment seemed to refer to the fact that for years the Confederate flag flew over the state house in Columbia, South Carolina. Under the leadership of then Governor David Beasely (now Huckabee’s South Carolina State Chair) a bill was introduced to remove the flag. Eventually a compromise that moved the flag to a Confederate memorial on the grounds of the state house was reached but not before it arguably ruined any chances Beasley had for reelection.
At a media availability Thursday night in Columbia Huckabee was asked to clarify his comments and whether or not he supports the flying of the Confederate flag. He refused to answer the question at hand, saying only that it was a state issue that doesn’t concern the President.
One reporter followed-up, "For many African Americans and no doubt some others its seen as a sign kinda potent with racist imagery -and also reflects a time of ultimate division within this country. I’m not clear why as President that wouldn’t be in fact, arguably very appropriate for someone to weigh in on."
Huckabee would not take the bait and merely said his response stood as it was, "it is not an issue that the President of The United States needs to weigh in on," adding that he had the support of many African Americans in Arkansas while serving as Governor, "I got it by serving the people of my state not getting involved in the affairs of somebody else’s state."
It seems strange that Huckabee would bring up the issue for the first time this campaign, unprompted, two days before the primary here. It is an issue not even on the table here. Huckabee often jokes about pandering to voters; perhaps this time it’s no joke.