Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is often mentioned as a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. But comments he made about race could doom his candidacy before he even gets started.
Speaking to a reporter for the Weekly Standard about growing up in Mississippi at the height of the civil rights movement, Barbour said, "I just don't remember it as being that bad." Barbour pointed out that his hometown of Yazoo City didn't have the racial tensions that other cities did.
Barbour then went on to credit the Citizens Council, a group that has been viewed as pro-segregationist, for helping to integrate his hometown more peacefully than other cities in the Deep South.
After a public outcry, Barbour issued a statement on Tuesday in an attempt to clarify his remarks:
"My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation."
Democrats seized upon the opportunity to bash Barbour as unfit for the presidency. Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said on Twitter:
"He's not ready for prime time or not ready for the 21st century - either way it's disqualifying."