Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on “Meet the Press” he viewed the Confederate flag as a “road block” for his state, joining others who called for removing it from the grounds of the South Carolina capitol in the wake of this month’s shootings in Charleston.
“Put it in a museum,” Graham said. “You can look at it any way you would like. But after this shooting, and after the call for it to be taken down by the families of the victims, I see it as a road block to the future of my state.”
Days after the shooting, Graham told CNN the flag is “part of who we are” in South Carolina. But last week he stood with Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., and a group of lawmakers as she said it was time to move the flag from Capitol grounds. Graham was part of a compromise in 2000 that placed the flag in its current position. On Meet the Press, he said the recent shooting changed his thinking.
“My state will never be able to move forward after this shooting if we don’t take the flag down,” Graham said. “The people at the A.M.E. church, the families of the victims changed everything by their grace, by their love, by their forgiveness, making it impossible for a guy like me to say, ‘Keep the flag up.'”
When asked by Chuck Todd later in the interview, Graham refused to endorsed removing the names of Confederate figures like Robert E. Lee from schools and roads, citing Lee’s accomplishments after the Civil War. “[W]hen you look at what he did as a whole, I think he’s earned the right to be called one of the great figures in American history,” Graham said. ” If it wasn’t for his leadership after the war … only God knows what would’ve happened after 1865.”
On Friday, Graham attended the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pickney, one of the nine people killed in the Charleston shootings.
Graham said of President Obama’s speech at the service, “I don’t think he’s a very good Commander-In-Chief, but he did a very good job.”