Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart said that he doesn’t believe that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery, arguing that it was mostly about states’ rights.
In a Monday interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Stewart, who recently won the GOP nomination in the Virginia Senate race, said that not all parts of Virginia’s history are “pretty.”
But he said he doesn’t associate slavery with the war.
“I don’t at all. If you look at the history, that’s not what it meant at all, and I don’t believe that the Civil War was ultimately fought over the issue of slavery,” Stewart said.
When “Rising” co-host Krystal Ball pressed him again if the Civil War was “significantly” fought over slavery, Stewart said some of them talked about slavery, but added that most soldiers never owned slaves and “they didn’t fight to preserve the institution of slavery.”
“We have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who were fighting at that time and from their perspective, they saw it as a federal intrusion of the state,” he said.
Stewart also said he doesn’t support a Richmond elementary school named after a Confederate general deciding to rename it after former President Obama.
“I’m not opposed to somebody naming a school after a president of the United States, even though I don’t like Barack Obama,” Stewart said. “Don’t take the name of a historic figure off a school. That is political correctness run amuck.”
Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, has been a outspoken defender of Confederate monuments. That was the centerpiece of Stewart’s campaign when he ran in the Virginia governor’s race in 2017 and came surprisingly close to the GOP nomination.
During his Senate campaign, Stewart has been a vocal supporter of President Trump. Stewart previously worked as a co-chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign in Virginia. He went on to eke out a win over a more moderate GOP candidate, state Del. Nick Freitas.
Stewart will face off against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, who was Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.
Kaine is heavily favored in his reelection race in the blue-leaning state. Clinton won Virginia by more than 5 points in 2016 — a bigger margin of victory than Obama — and a recent poll from Roanoke College found Kaine ahead of Stewart by 11 points.
— Lisa Hagen