As the Austin American Statesman's Jason Embry reports, the plate has been proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an ancestral history group that has been involved in litigation to display the Confederate flag in state buildings and on monuments around the country.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board has been considering the application for months. In April, the board deadlocked in a four-to-four vote on the plate, with another vote scheduled for next month.
On Wednesday, Perry broke his silence on the issue and said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa's Bay 9 News that he opposes the measure—an opinion that could very well shape the vote since the DMV board are all Perry appointees.
"That's just a part of history . . . . You don't need to scrape that wound again," Perry said. "It just doesn't need to happen."
But Perry's position could come back to haunt him in South Carolina, a key presidential primary state that has embraced its Confederate history and has approved its own license plate featuring the Confederate flag.
Presidential candidates in past election cycles have run afoul of the state's tricky politics on the issue. Ahead of the 2000 GOP primary, a debate erupted over whether the flag, which then flew atop of the South Carolina state capital building, should be removed.
John McCain, who was then challenging George W. Bush for the nomination, danced around the subject, calling the flag a "symbol of racism and slavery" but later saying it was also a "symbol of heritage." Later, McCain condemned the flag and admitted his wishy-washy stance had been driven by political motivations. "It was an act of cowardice," he said in 2008.
The flag was removed from atop the South Carolina capital in 2000, but the issue still comes up during the South Carolina's presidential primary, as supporters of the flag continue their efforts to return it to the building.
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