Some Pennsylvania Republicans defend Mastriano for posing in Confederate uniform

WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Some Pennsylvania Republicans defended Donald Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano on Saturday after Reuters published a photo of him in 2014 posing in a Confederate uniform.

The previously unpublished photo was released by the US Army War College to Reuters under a Freedom of Information Act request. It showed Mastriano among the 2013-2014 professors of the Department of Strategy, Plans and Military Operations, where he worked at the time. Read more

For years the photo hung on the college, which removed it at the request of Reuters, saying the image did not reflect its values. Mastriano, a state senator who retired from the military in 2017, did not respond to requests for comment.

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Northampton County Republican Party Chairman Lee Snover downplayed the photo.

“It happened years ago. There was something called the Civil War that included Confederate soldiers, so I don’t know what the problem is,” Snover said.

When asked if she supported the college’s decision to take down the photo, she replied, “I wouldn’t have. I don’t like liberals destroying our history.”

Sam DeMarco, Republican leader of Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, once wrote an op-ed expressing concern about Mastriano’s eligibility. But he said the photo was exaggerated by the candidate’s opponents.

“This story is another example of why the media is viewed poorly and with suspicion by many on the right,” DeMarco told Reuters.

The teachers in the photo had been given the option of dressing as historical figures, people familiar with the photo said, but most opted for regular attire. Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.

Displays of Confederate symbols can be seen as insensitive to those who see them as painful reminders of racial oppression and the Civil War that saw 11 rebel Confederate states fight to keep black people enslaved.

Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general who is running against Mastriano in the November ballot, said Saturday his opponent voluntarily wore a traitor’s uniform.

“This man is dangerous and out of touch,” Shapiro said at a campaign rally. “This man does not respect you or our common values ​​of common humanity.”

More than 33,000 Pennsylvania soldiers died fighting for the Union during the Civil War, and the state was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the conflict, which ended in victory Union and inspired President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The Mastriano District, Pennsylvania’s 33rd, includes Gettysburg.

Democrat Austin Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor and the first black American to serve as state representative for Pennsylvania’s 35th District, said it was “unacceptable” and “deeply hurtful” to Mastriano de wear a uniform that reflects black enslavement.

“We have to beat him in November,” Davis wrote on Twitter.

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Reporting by Phil Stewart and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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