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Haley Barbour, potential candidate for president in 2012, sinks ship with gaffe January 16, 2011

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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In December 2010 Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential candidate for president in 2012, did major damage to his political future with a gaffe about his hometown’s history in the civil rights era. Defending Yazoo City, Barbour recalled that things weren’t too bad there in the 1960s thanks to a group of businessmen called the Citizens Council. The problem with his statement was that the Citizens Council was famous for supporting segregation, and many immediately claimed that Barbour’s defense of the organization was reprehensible.

Barbour responded by claiming that his original comments were taken out of context, and that he agreed that the Citizens Council did more harm than good. However, the damage was clearly done. Many political insiders are claiming that the episode demonstrates that Barbour is not prepared for the national stage, and news reporters are digging up racist comments that Barbour has made in the past.

For more on this story, see the following segment from the Rachel Maddow Show:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Was Barbour’s original statement, at least as it was reported, unforgivable? Was his response to the scandal sufficient in distancing himself from the Citizens Council? Why, or why not?

2.  Have politicians before Barbour committed similar mistakes? Which examples could you cite? Did any of those politicians survive the scandal?

3.  At this point, what should Haley Barbour do in the next year to build a more positive image regarding his relationship with the black community?

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