Both Republicans sent clear messages with social media posts Saturday

By Adam Carlson
Updated June 21, 2015 12:15 PM
Credit: Getty Images

On Saturday, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney publicly called for the removal of the Confederate Flag, which controversially continues to fly on state grounds in South Carolina, after a gunman killed nine worshippers at a Charleston church in a racially-motivated attack.

Romney Tweeted Saturday morning, “Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims” – echoing similar comments he made in 2008.

Former Florida Gov. Bush, now campaigning for president, followed hours later with a Facebook post: “My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear. In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged.”

Confederate regalia has a complicated role in Southern culture, where it is viewed both as a symbol of racial oppression and of ancestral sacrifice.

To many outside the region, the symbols can seem surprisingly resilient some 150 years after the end of the Civil War, and the defeat of the Confederacy (the flag at the South Carolina capitol cannot legally be removed without the legislature’s consent, for example).

Romney and Bush’s positions draw bright lines between them and much of the rest of the Republican’s national lineup, who have demurred on the issue, as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did when he said, in part, “I think often this issue is used as a wedge to try to divide people.”