Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, called for the immediate removal of the Confederate battle flag from outside the South Carolina Statehouse, scrambling the 2016 GOP presidential contenders into staking a position on a contentious cultural issue.
Some still steered clear from the sensitive debate, even after the shooting deaths of nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston further exposed the raw emotions about the flying the flag.
Many see the Confederate flag as “a symbol of racial hatred,” Romney tweeted on Saturday. “Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.”
The former Massachusetts governor joins President Barack Obama and civil rights leaders in calling for the flag to come down as the nation grapples with Wednesday’s murders. The man charged with the crimes, Dylann Storm Roof, held the Confederate flag in a photograph on a website and displayed the flags of defeated white-supremacist governments in Africa on his Facebook page.