Sanford says plans don't involve flag

COLUMBIA --- A new push by the NAACP to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds won't be getting any help from Gov. Mark Sanford, who said Tuesday that the final years of his administration will focus on "the things that will make the biggest difference in the most people's lives."

It would require "a tremendous amount of political capital to try and open a compromise," said Mr. Sanford, a Republican in his second and final term. "This administration is not going to be doing that."

Dennis Courtland Hayes, the interim president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Monday at the civil rights group's national convention that the group is planning a campaign against the flag and urged members to stay tuned for details.

The NAACP and other critics call the Confederate battle flag a symbol of slavery and racism. Advocates say it is an emblem of Southern pride and heritage.

The flag once flew atop the Capitol dome in South Carolina, but a compromise in 2000 removed it to fly on Statehouse grounds near the Confederate Soldier Monument, not far from a busy Columbia intersection.

Mr. Sanford, who has lobbied for income tax breaks, trimming state spending and streamlining government, echoed earlier statements he has made that seeking another home for the flag is not in his plans.

Lonnie Randolph, the president of South Carolina's NAACP, said the organization is looking to refresh its boycott by meeting with leading actors and at least one movie studio consultant to talk about discouraging making films in the state until the flag is removed.

He declined to offer specifics about the conversations.

"They are going to get involved, and many of them have said they want to get involved and throw their support behind this effort," he said.

Mr. Randolph said the idea is to persuade actors to tell movie studios they're not interested in productions that would film in South Carolina, a state that has spent years sweetening tax incentives to attract that business.

The NAACP discussed a similar idea in 2000 as the boycott began.

At the time, the flag flew atop the Statehouse dome. The Legislature voted to move the flag to the Confederate monument in front of the Statehouse, but the NAACP continued its boycott, saying the legislative action did not go far enough.

The ongoing effort targets the state's tourism industry and discourages families from holding reunions in the state. In 2001, the NCAA announced a moratorium on awarding predetermined postseason events to the state.

"It is a disgrace and embarrassment that this state still not only symbolically, but realistically, supports the very things that have oppressed people throughout history," Mr. Randolph said.