'Confederate Cuban' opts out of S.C. Tea Party appearance

Roan Garcia-Quintana

The controversial figure known as the "Confederate Cuban" won't be speaking at next weekend's S.C. Tea Party convention in Myrtle Beach.

Convention leader Joe Dugan said Thursday that Roan Garcia-Quintana, previously a lightning rod of South Carolina's political establishment for his controversial statements about white nationalism, won't appear.

"He is not going to speak; he is not going to take part," Dugan said, adding that Garcia-Quintana did not want his critics to take away from the convention's goals.

In 2013, Gov. Nikki Haley asked Garcia-Quintana, then a tea party activist and a campaign volunteer, to step down amid controversy surrounding his affiliation with a labeled hate group.

The Southern Poverty Law Center had issued a report noting Garcia-Quintana is a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens. National Jewish Democratic Council former executive director Aaron Keyak said the council has links to anti-Semitism.

"There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina, and Governor Haley has no tolerance for it," Haley's campaign manager, Tim Pearson, said at the time.

Garcia-Quintana was part of the 164-member Haley for Governor Grassroots Advisory Committee, a volunteer group backing her re-election.

In an interview with The Post and Courier, Garcia-Quintana played coy about his plans for the convention, being held next weekend, and that's expected to attract more than 600 participants. His name, according to news reports, once appeared on the event's speakers' list but has since been taken down.

"I don't have anything to say about that at this moment," Garcia-Quintana said. "You might have to come to find out. Why publicize it? Why make a big deal? There's a lot of great speakers coming."

At least four speakers with possible presidential aspirations in 2016 will be at the event, including Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and real estate/media figure Donald Trump.

The Cuban-American told the Post and Courier his views, particularly opposing interracial marriage, are his own, and he shouldn't be silenced for having them.

"I have talked about why is that we Europeans have this fear, or we have been silenced? Why is it we have been silenced? And these people ... minority people, control the debate. Control the speech. They always talk about white nationalists, but you've got more radical black nationalists I think."