Mike Huckabee, a Republican running for president in 2016, insisted on June 23 that there was no need for conversations about race, but rather more religious conversions.
Huckabee made his comments during an interview with Fox News’ Ed Henry (video below).
Henry reminded Huckabee that he had ducked a recent question about the Confederate flag staying on the state capitol grounds in South Carolina following the fatal shootings of nine black churchgoers last week in Charleston.
Huckabee, who didn't take a stand on the flag, stated:
"No, I didn’t punt at all. I just simply said that the president of the United States has nothing to do with what flags go on a capitol grounds."
Huckabee claimed on June 21 that the Confederate flag was not an issue for the president to comment on, noted CBS News.
As he did on a few days earlier, Huckabee claimed again that he was really being baited about South Carolina being a racist state when asked about the Confederate flag.
Huckabee then used a similar defense argued by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in November 2014 about the Confederate flag:
"And so what I said was, Ed, as a frequent visitor to South Carolina, I look at this objectively. You’ve got a female governor who is of Indian descent, you have the only elected African-American U.S. senator in the South from a state of 4.8 million people, elected largely by people who are mostly white. That’s not racism."
The issue has never been the current-day people in South Carolina, but rather the symbolism of the Confederate flag, which was waved by pro-slavery Confederate forces.
Huckabee went on to add:
"I don’t think the president of the United States need to be picking the symbols that fly on state capitol grounds. I didn’t punt, I didn’t squirm, I didn’t vacillate on it."
After giving a strong defense as to why he should not give an opinion on the Confederate flag, Huckabee said he agreed with Haley's decision on June 22 to call for the removal the flag.
"And I keep hearing, Ed, people talk about, 'We need more conversations about race.' Actually we don’t need more conversations. What we need is conversions because the reconciliations that changes people is not a racial reconciliation, it’s a spiritual reconciliation when people are reconciled to God.
"We saw it in those church members. When I love God and I know that God created other people regardless of their color as much as he made me, I don’t have a problem with racism. It’s solved."
Rev. Franklin Graham, 62, called for removal of the Confederate flag for the first time on June 22 on his Facebook page. The son of evangelist Billy Graham began his post by mentioning how his great-great-grandfathers suffered greatly while fighting for the slavery of black people in the Civil War.
"My great-great-grandfathers fought for the South under the Confederate flag during the civil war — both were wounded at Gettysburg and lost limbs. Growing up, many people in the South flew the Confederate flag; but I believe that it’s time for this flag to be set aside as a part of our history. We are all Americans, and we need unity today more than ever. Through faith in Christ we can have love and reconciliation with one another — regardless of race. Jesus Christ can change the human heart and take away the prejudice, racism, and hatred that lies within."