Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol on Sunday slammed states that had repealed the death penalty because he said that executions were an "important symbol" of justice.
Last week, Republican Nebraska lawmakers passed legislation that would repeal the state's death penalty on the grounds that it was an example of a wasteful government program. The Republican governor vowed to veto the bill, but lawmakers suggested that they could have enough votes to overturn a veto.
During a panel discussion on ABC News, conservative CNN pundit S.E. Cupp asserted that the tide had turned, and that even many religious conservatives now opposed the death penalty.
"I don't find it to be moral, I don't find it to be just," she said. "The wrongful convictions that we hear about all the time. It is costly, it is bankrupted entire counties. And so for me, I've been trying to convince fellow conservatives to have a change of heart on this issue."
But Kristol said that he was "convinced" that executions were both "just" and an "important symbol."
"I'm a defender of the death penalty," he explained. "I think it is both just and an important symbol for really heinous crimes and how serious we take the state's obligations to preserve life actually."
Kristol noted that he "respected" conservatives who took principled pro-life stands against the death penalty. But the conservative columnist seemed more interested in using the topic to attack Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton than engaging in a substantive debate.
"I'm curious what Hillary Clinton -- if we can get back to her -- what Hillary Clinton's position is," he quipped. "Her husband executed people as governor of Arkansas. And I'm sure if she ever appears before the press, every Republican candidate, of course, will get asked on this."