George Allen, the Republican nominee for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat, endorsed keeping a controversial state song in place while he was a legislator in the 1990s, according to a video from the Library of Virginia archives.
In video footage of Allen speaking on the floor of the state House of Delegates in 1991, the Republican endorsed retaining "Carry Me Back To Old Virginia" as the official state song during debate on whether the song should be repealed. The song was designated as Virginia's state song in 1940 and had been the subject of annual repeal bills starting in 1970 due to several racially tinged lyrics, including references to "darkey" and "massa." Allen eventually repealed it as the state's song in 1997 during his last year as the state's governor.
During the debate, Allen said he believed the song was an important part of the state's history and that the state legislature should not be in the business of rewriting it.
"This song was written years ago and it was not written to offend anyone," Allen said in the video, which was obtained by The Huffington Post from a Democratic source who was not authorized to speak on the record. "The issue that is before us is that the original words are now understandably offensive to some people. Though they were not intended to be."
Allen went on to say that he believed there could be two state songs, the original version of the song and a version written by the state legislature. He noted that several other states had more than one state song, including New Hampshire, Tennessee and West Virginia. Allen said it would allow Virginia residents to have a choice as to which song to use.
"I will vote against this bill because I believe that we should not revise history," Allen said in the video.
Allen is locked in a competitive battle with former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb. Allen was defeated in his bid for a second Senate term in 2006 by Webb after he used a racial slur to describe a Democratic Party tracker who was following Allen around the state with a video camera.
Allen's campaign did not return multiple messages for comment on the song.