GOP Senate candidate calls Confederate monuments 'symbols of hope,' says 'we learn from our mistakes'

GOP New Hampshire Senate candidate retired Gen. Don Bolduc said during a campaign-style gathering earlier this month that he believed statues of Confederate soldiers are "symbols of hope" and "moving forward."

“We forgave. We created this thing called Reconstruction. We moved forward. We honor those that fought against us as opposed to dishonoring them. We gave them life back, opportunity back in order for them to change, in order to unify our country. These decisions were made for a reason. Statues were put up for a reason," Bolduc can be seen saying in video of the event

The comments come amid a national debate over removing Confederate statues, spurred by recent protests over racial injustice. The House is slated to vote next week on legislation to remove from the Capitol statues of people who served in the Confederacy or who worked to uphold slavery, and lawmakers from both parties have expressed an openness to renaming Army bases that were named after Confederate officers.

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"Military forts were named for a reason and that is the history that we must accept, not change," Bolduc continued. "And when people ask me, well, it's just a symbol of racism. No, it's not. It's a symbol of hope. It's a symbol of inspiration. It's a symbol of moving forward. It's a recognition of our history that we're not proud of, but we need to grow through and become stronger. That's what America is about. That's why we're the greatest country in the world. That's why people want to be like us, and we are in danger of losing that. And I want the honor to serve you in Washington, D.C." 

Bolduc alluded to the Sudanese civil war and his time in Africa before returning to the American Civil War and its aftermath.

"I have seen civil war. I have seen the end result of civil war. I've worked in Sudan, terrible place. They continue to kill each other today," he said. "You know why? Because they didn't do the things that our country did after the Civil War ended. We created this thing called Reconstruction." 

Buldoc's campaign told The Hill the retired general's comments were meant to emphasize the importance of learning from the nation's past. 

"The point the general is trying to make is that we need to learn from history," said Josh McElveen, a senior adviser to Buldoc. "We learn from our mistakes and from our successes, and by erasing any portion of that, we move forward without the benefit of knowledge and what we've learned." 

Buldoc is running in the Republican Senate primary to take on incumbent New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (D). The primary is slated for September.