Mitt Romney has long been vocal about his distaste for the Confederate flag flying on South Carolina Capitol grounds, saying in a 2007 presidential debate, "That's not a flag I recognize. That flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown." He refueled that fire Saturday when he tweeted in response to the Charleston church shootings, writing, "Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims."
Other Republican POTUS contenders are now offering their own take, per the AP and the Washington Post.:
- South Carolina's own Sen. Lindsey Graham insists the flag "is a part of who we are" and that we shouldn't be blaming what happened in Charleston on it: "We're not going to give this a guy an excuse … . It's him … not the flag."
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says via a statement, "In Florida we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged," but "following a period of mourning there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward, and I'm confident they will do the right thing."
- One person who wants to table the discussion: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who says, "I fully expect the leaders of South Carolina to debate this, but the conversation should wait until after the families have had a chance to bury and mourn their loved ones."
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to see both sides, saying he understands "those who see a history of racial oppression and a history of slavery" embedded in the flag, but that he also gets "those who want to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors and the traditions of their states, not the racial oppression."
- Sen. Marco Rubio, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and expected presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich are taking a non-interventionist approach (though Fiorina and Kasich say they agree personally with taking the flag down), stating it's up to the people of South Carolina to decide what to do—not "outsiders," as Rubio puts it.
- Still silent on the matter: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, and the latest GOP contender, a surprisingly quiet Donald Trump.
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