-- The Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol has become a flashpoint after nine African Americans were shot dead in a Charleston church last week.
President Obama agreed:
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 20, 2015
Good point, Mitt. https://t.co/Ryusfp8Xbh
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 21, 2015
The 2016 presidential candidates have been asked to weigh in on whether the flag should be removed from the grounds, prompting some to call for its immediate removal while others have said it’s a decision left to the people of South Carolina.
ABC News reached out to all of the declared and potential 2016 candidates for their positions on the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Here’s a look at where the candidates stand on the issue.
TAKE THE FLAG DOWN
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie voiced his stance on removing the flag for the first time Tuesday afternoon, nearly a full day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her support for its removal.
"I commend Governor Haley for her decision to remove the flag from the grounds of the state capitol. While this is a necessary step towards addressing a divisive symbol of racism in our country, this step will mean little if we do not also honestly confront and discuss the fact that these murders were born out of ugly hate and racism," Christie said. "That is what we must stand up against and fight even more than any symbol; it is long overdue that we not only shine a light on and condemn the symbols of hate, but on the haters themselves as well."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, weighed in on the issue for the first time Tuesday morning, announcing his support for removing the flag in an interview with ABC radio affiliate WRKO.
“For every African American in the country it’s a symbol of slavery for them and now it’s a symbol of murder -- it’s time to put it in a museum," Paul said.
"In the 21st century, that flag shouldn't be on the Capitol ground in the state of South Carolina," Pataki said on Fox News. "I think they'll do the right thing. They'll remove the flag.”