Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is defending Confederate statues in Virginia as part of its heritage, one day after moving to ban "hurtful" Confederate flags on state license plates.  

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“I am sticking just with the license plates because I do think that is a message that is so hurtful, that flag, to folks,” McAuliffe told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on Wednesday.

“But not statues. I mean, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, these are all parts of our heritage," he added. "And the people that were in that battle, the Civil War, many of them were in it obviously for their own reasons that they had for that. But leave the statues and those things alone.”

The governor ordered the Sons of the Confederacy to redesign its commemorative license plate without the image in the wake of a mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

The suspect, Dylann Roof, has been seen in photographs posing with the Confederate flag, leading South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to call for the flag to be removed from the grounds of the state capitol.

McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who won the governorship in 2013, noted that Virginia used to house the capitol of the Confederacy and said that the state is in a “very unique situation.”

But he was resolute on his opposition to flying the Confederate flag and called for a renewed effort to pass gun control legislation after the South Carolina shootings.

“There's just no place for it today. We have to all work together, we have to build, as I say, the new economy. You can't do it with divisive symbols and words,” he said of the Confederate flag.

“I’ve fought hard, I’ve tried to get comprehensive gun restrictions that make common sense. We ought to have background checks,” he added.