On Colorado Inside Out, Tancredo misled about controversial South Carolina speech

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On KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out, Colorado congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo dubiously claimed that the museum where he delivered an anti-immigration speech and then sang the Confederate anthem "Dixie" in September 2006 was the "national museum of ... Confederate history, or something of that nature." The speech in fact took place at the South Carolina State Museum.

On the June 22 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out (CIO), U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) asserted that the museum where he delivered a controversial September 9, 2006, anti-immigration speech at which he sang "Dixie" was "a Confederate museum." In fact, the South Carolina State Museum features a variety of exhibits and is not just a "Confederate history [museum] ... that has Confederate stuff all over the place," as Tancredo dubiously claimed. Furthermore, according to a September 18, 2006, Denver Post column by Jim Spencer, "Tancredo's people conceded that the [Confederate] flags had been moved in from an adjacent room by people attending the event."

According to a September 13, 2006, Rocky Mountain News article, "Tancredo gave his standard immigration stump speech in South Carolina ... [t]here were Confederate flags in the room, and he [Tancredo] joined audience members in singing the Southern anthem Dixie." Similarly, the Post reported September 13, "The Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] went to Saturday's museum event and reported details on its website, saying Tancredo 'addressed the standing-room audience of 200 to 250 from behind a podium draped in a Confederate battle flag.' " A September 14 Post article noted that "[a]bout 25 members of the South Carolina League of the South, which advocates an 'independent Southern republic,' attended Tancredo's speech."

During the CIO broadcast, panelist Dani Newsum asked Tancredo to "look me in the eye and tell me what you were doing in South Carolina, with a Confederate flag as a backdrop, talking to a group of people which included ... a white separatist, and whistling or humming 'Dixie.' " After admitting that he "sang" the song "Dixie" following his speech, Tancredo claimed that the event was held at "the national museum of ... Confederate history, or something of that nature." He further asserted that he delivered his speech in "a Confederate room that has Confederate stuff all over the place."

From the June 22 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out:

NEWSUM: I'll get the question out. I don't know if you'll get the answer out. I'm your constituent, as is my husband, as are our children. Please look me in the eye and tell me what you were doing in South Carolina, with a Confederate flag as a backdrop, talking to a group of people which included, speaking of culture, a white separatist, and whistling or humming "Dixie."

TANCREDO: No, I sang it.

NEWSUM: OK.

TANCREDO: [laughs] I didn't whistle it. Maybe, maybe there's the thing.

NEWSUM: All right, look me in the eye and would you tell me: Why?

TANCREDO: Because I was asked to speak and it was at the Con-, Confederate museum, let's see, the national museum of his- -- Confederate history, or something of that nature. It was a museum in South Carolina, a Confederate room that has Confederate stuff all over the place. I was asked to speak. It wasn't by a white separatist group. I have no idea who --

NEWSUM: No, they were in attendance.

TANCREDO: -- was in the room. Well --

NEWSUM: Yeah.

TANCREDO: Maybe so. I mean --

NEWSUM: But the flag was there. So --

TANCREDO: The Communist Party comes out in support of our immediate withdrawal from the war. Does that mean that [U.S. Rep. John] Murtha [D-PA] is a communist 'cause he, you know, he speaks that way? I don't, I can't control who either comes to hear me or who contributes to me. I can't control that. I control what I say and what I do, and none of those things, I think, lead to the kind of conclusion you're trying to create here.

NEWSUM: Well, that was not an American flag behind you. That was a Confederate flag.

TANCREDO: It's a Confederate museum. It's a museum of, of Confederate history.

According to its website, the South Carolina State Museum features a variety of exhibits ranging from "art, cultural history, natural history, science and technology" and it is not, as Tancredo dubiously claimed, "the national museum of ... Confederate history." Moreover, as Spencer wrote in his September 17 column, "Tancredo's spokesman said the [Confederate] flags were part of a museum display. After a museum spokesman said the room was empty before the speech, Tancredo's people conceded that the flags had been moved in from an adjacent room by people attending the event."

Further, in claiming that he "can't control who ... comes to hear" him speak as he claimed in response to Newsum's inquiry about "a white separatist" at the event, Tancredo failed to acknowledge that he has ties to at least one of the event organizers: Richard Hines, who has been an outspoken member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Spencer's column noted that it was Hines who "booked the room at the request of Roan Garcia-Quintana, executive director of Americans Have Had Enough Coalition." Americans Have Had Enough Coalition (AHHEC) was reportedly started by Tancredo and its website identifies him as the group's "honorary chairman." In his column, Spencer identified Hines as the husband of an AHHEC board member and noted that "[w]ith a small group displaying Confederate flags, Hines protested putting a statue of black tennis star Arthur Ashe on a street that, Hines wrote to the Washington Post, 'was designated as a memorial to the Confederacy and those who served her.' "

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