June 20, 2015 2:03 PM EDT

In the wake of the recent shooting at a historic African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C., 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has urged that state to take down the Confederate flag flying at the state’s capitol in Columbia.

In a tweet, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, wrote:

Taking the flag down is easier said than done. South Carolina’s state politics make removing the flag tantamount to political suicide, as many in the state believe it represents their Southern heritage, experts told TIME. But an online petition to remove the Confederate flag following the Charleston shooting quickly surpassed 300,000 signatures.

Read More: Here’s Why the Confederate Flag Is Still Flying in South Carolina

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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