The Confederate flag is seen next to the monument of the victims of the Civil War in Columbia, S.C., on June 20, 2015.
Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty

2016 hopefuls speak out on Confederate flag

The debate over the Confederate flag currently flying in front of the South Carolina Statehouse has landed at the feet of many 2016 hopefuls. 

It began on Saturday, when former presidential candidate Mitt Romney took to Twitter to call on South Carolina lawmakers “to honor #charleston victims” by removing the flag. President Obama retweeted Romney, adding, “Good point, Mitt.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush posted a statement on Facebook later the same day: “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.”

Democratic hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley tweeted Monday morning:

On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called on the state’s legislature to remove the flag. Her call-to-action prompted more 2016 candidates to speak up:

MORE CANDIDATES’ REACTIONS: Charleston attack drags GOP 2016 field into uncomfortable places

Sen. Rand Paul, who had been silent on the issue until Tuesday, told radio station WKRO he supported removing the flag. “I think the flag is inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery — and particularly when people use it obviously for murder and to justify hatred so vicious that you would kill somebody — I think that that symbolism needs to end, and I think South Carolina is doing the right thing,” Paul said.

But not all candidates have taken a clear position, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, who told reporters on Saturday, “The next president of the United States will not make that decision. That’s up for the people of South Carolina to make.”