South Carolina’s top Republican leaders, along with nationwide GOP lawmakers, called on the state legislature to remove the Confederate Flag from the state capitol grounds Monday, after days of behind-the-scenes wrangling and public stumbles. According to people familiar with the decision, the discovery Saturday of a racist website kept by the Charleston shooter cemented Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to call for the Civil War symbol’s removal, and started the process which came to include the state’s two senators, the RNC chairman, and top state legislators joining together on Monday. The state legislature must still vote by a two-thirds margin to remove the flag, and while some opposition is likely, momentum is squarely on the side of removal.
Most Republican presidential candidates avoided specifically weighing in on the flag issue, deferring to Haley and South Carolinians, while gauging the political winds. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offered equivocating statements suggesting the flag should be removed, while the rest of the field joined in support only once Haley came out for taking it down. While messy, the episode avoids what could have been a catastrophic messaging problem for the Republican Party, which is struggling to grow its support among minority voters.
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“My odds of beating this are much, much better than my odds were at beating [former Democratic Lt. Gov.] Anthony Brown.” — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Monday after announcing he has been diagnosed with a form of late stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that is deemed “very advanced and very aggressive.” He won election in November, defeating Brown in a surprise victory.
“This is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state. The murderer now locked up in Charleston said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that—that just the opposite is happening.” — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announcing she supports removing the Confederate Flag from the state capitol grounds.
Bits and Bites
CNN’s GoPro antics rile Supreme Court [Politico]
Mississippi House Speaker: Confederate part of state flag ‘needs to be removed’ [The Clarion-Ledger]
From Piyush to Bobby: How does Jindal feel about his family’s past? [Washington Post]
Clinton to meet with church officials near Ferguson unrest [Associated Press]