EASLEY — A Pickens County GOP town hall meeting is making national news due to controversial statements made by featured speaker Catherine Templeton concerning the Confederacy.
Templeton, who is running for governor, spoke at the event held at Mutt’s BBQ on Aug. 1 to a sizable crowd of Upstate Republicans.
But it was her seemingly contradictory remarks that caught people’s attention when she said she was “proud of the Confederacy” and yet still supported the removal of the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds.
“I think what we did was we reacted, and I think that’s what happens in government a lot,” she said at the event, referring to the flag’s removal following the shootings in Charleston. “I am proud to be from South Carolina. I am proud of the Confederacy but I’m not going to second-guess what the people in the State House did when I wasn’t there.”
Templeton said she lived in Charleston and drove by the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on “a daily basis.”
“A bad person took something that’s dear to us — took our heritage — and turned it into hate,” she said. “I think we reacted as a result, I think it was all we had to control.”
Templeton’s statements were picked up by a member of the Associated Press and subsequently reported in newspapers and media outlets nationwide.
It was a subject that wouldn’t drop as further questions on the topic continued to emerge from the audience.
“Southern heritage is a very important issue to me and I guess you’ve seen all the monuments that being took down (sic) in Louisiana, all the anti-Southern things going on and I feel ‘anti-Southernism’ (sic) is not a conservative value,” said a man from Anderson County. “I’d like to know your opinion on Southern heritage and Southern defense.”
“Not on my watch,” said Templeton. “I don’t think there’s anything else to say about it. You cannot rewrite history. I don’t care whose feelings it hurts.
“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants (Confederates) in South Carolina and it’s why we are who we are and where we are,” she continued. “I very much respect the men who gave their fortunes and their lives to put us in this position.”
Rick Tate, chairman of Pickens County GOP, praised his group’s meeting and Templeton’s first Town Hall gathering on Facebook.
“I think it would be safe to say the efforts of our team last night were a success,” he said. “Our goal will be to continue to provide our community with as many opportunities as possible to learn about those who seek their vote.”