Should South Carolina's Confederate Flag Come Down?

NPR host Steve Inskeep, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Sara Fagen on the "This Week" roundtable.
6:54 | 06/21/15

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Transcript for Should South Carolina's Confederate Flag Come Down?
Martha, we'll get straight to it, we have the roundtable. We have NPR's morning edition host Steve Inskeep, maria Cardona and Sara Fagen. So, Steve, let's get to this debate on the flag, which wasn't a big issue in the last republican primary, but Mitt Romney has put it out there, strong statement, bring it down, what is going to happen with the party of Lincoln on this issue? Let's talk about it. It's always a perilous thing to do, Jon, to look at one individual and look at the larger ramifications. People can take advantage of that. But in this case, you have a young man who's been associated with this online manifesto, in which he talks about current events, so that puts it on the table and you have conservatives, including Romney and others, who are increasingly saying, this is problem for conservatives, because conservatives want to make state's rights arguments and they are discredited when they are associated with this flag. There's increasingly it seems to me an urge to get that out of the way so that republicans can make their arguments on the issues rather than the past. Sara, are we going to see republican candidates dance around this? Jeb bush said, I took it down in Florida. He was the strongest so far. But, he didn't come out and say South Carolina should take it down. He didn't. I think most of these candidates push this back as a state's rights issue. Which in many regards, what Rick santorum said was right. Federal candidates don't have to have an opinion on every state's issue. This is going to be an issue debated in South Carolina. Yes. It's going to be an issue debated in South Carolina. It's important to remind folks this was somewhat settled in 2000 when this flag was moved to the grounds of the capitol, it used to fly over the capitol. But it still flies on state grounds, that's the issue now. Clearly it's not settled because of the symbol it represents. It represents all of the hatred that's focused on racism in this country for so many people, including with what just happened in South Carolina. I commend Mitt Romney. Every single republican candidate would have to guts to come out and say what needs to happen. I frankly think, it would help the republican party moving forward, because they do have a problem with inclusiveness, with tolerance and for a republican party that wants to reach the white house, that needs lots more percentage of voters, minorities, Latinos, women, this is something that they need to get out of the way so, like Steve said, focus on the issues. I do think it's clearly a symbol of pain for a lot of african-americans and I do think party leaders need to think about that as we have this debate. Having said that, I think it's important in this debate, while emotions are high right now to acknowledge that not every southerner who's a caucasian looks at that as a symbol of racism. That's also important to point out. But I think also here what leaders can do is take it off state grounds, right? The government doesn't need to be sanctioning this and that is the issue with the confederate flag. That's what Jeb bush said, put it in the museum. It's fair we heard some voices early in the program from South Carolina essentially saying outsiders can't resolve this, south carolinians have to resolve this. Okay, I want to move on -- this was a big week in terms of 2016, one thing, we had the big announcements, Jeb bush and Donald Trump. Bernie sanders was the story, take a look at some scenes from Bernie sanders this week. Bernie sanders, our future and our next president. What an inspiration. I couldn't find one single thing that I disagreed with. I mean, I have to say, watching all these candidates, I don't think we have seen more enthusiasm for any candidate, democrat or republican, than we have seen for Bernie sanders, so, maria, what is going on -- Hillary Clinton supposed to be coronation here, she now finds all of the energy in the democratic primary is now with a 73-year-old self-described socialist from Vermont. The media has always thought this was going to be a coronation. The Clinton campaign never thought that this was going to be a coronation. That's why she's fighting to earn every single vote. Bernie's from a neighboring state. We shouldn't be surprised if he does very well in New Hampshire and Iowa and perhaps even wins. I think this is good for the democratic party, Jonathan, especially because democrats don't want a coronation. As a Hillary supporter, I think she will be the nominee, but she'll be that much better of a nominee and general election candidate, because of Bernie. The little discussed fact in the party the democratic base has moved farther to the left than the republican base has moved to the right. That's a facts over the last two decades. He's saying what many democratic activists what to hear. Which is why his crowds are big. Not only New Hampshire, but also Iowa, pretty much wherever he goes. I think this is a real challenge for Mrs. Clinton. He's not going to be the nominee, but he's going to cause her an incredible headache. And move her to the left and potentially make her unelectable in a general election. Bit of history comes to mind, in 1992, pat Buchanan challenged the first president bush, never got anywhere close to him in the primaries, but he was getting votes, 31%. Exactly, he got a third of the vote, he was crushed in that primary, but nevertheless it was seen as a sign of weakness for president bush. So, the Rick for Hillary Clinton is seen as weak. No democrat has broken 40% in Iowa unless you're from there or an incumbent. Or vp. So, again, I think expectations need -- You're bringing on the expectations. We're almost out of time. We had the two big announcements, trump and Jeb bush, if you looked at the sentiment online and discussions online, trump was everywhere. What kind of impact is he going to have on this race? I think he unfortunately for the republican party really cheapens the discourse of this debate, because, look, there's going to be really tense moments in this race, but none of these candidates with the exception of trump are going to refer to each other as losers, crooks, liars, any number of other insults. He's really about the sound bite and getting on the news. He actually criticized bush for not wearing a tie.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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