Haley Barbour describes KKK as 'a joke' but calls flap over license plate 'goofy'

02/17/2011 07:12 PM

LEXINGTON — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, dogged this week by questions about a proposed license plate featuring a KuKlux Klan founder, told cn|2 Politics that the KKK is “a joke” and that the media has inflated its importance.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

Barbour, who is considering running for the Republican nomination for president, made national headlines when he said he declined to denounce a Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later helped found the Ku Klux Klan. The Sons of Confederate Veterans in Mississippi has sought authorization for a license plate honoring Forrest and requested legislative approval.

While in Kentucky to meet with coal industry leaders Thursday, Barbour said he considered the dust-up “goofy” because the license plate won’t be approved. And he stuck to his position of not condemning individuals.

“To be denouncing dead people is particularly goofy, if you ask me,” he said. “I’ve denounced the Ku Klux Klan before.”

He went to say the group is “a joke.”

“There are not enough real members of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi that if one of them dies, they could have pallbearers,” he said. “But the news media lionizes the Ku Klux Klan. You know, you get three guys and sheet walk down the street and they act like, ‘God, this is a revolution in Egypt.’ It’s a joke. Nobody in his right mind believes in that junk.”

Barbour also talked about his presidential aspirations, saying he is “very concerned about the direction of the country.”

He has said he will decide whether he will run in April after the Mississippi legislative session is finished.

- Ryan Alessi


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.