Exclusive — Mitt Romney Dodging Questions About His Attack On SC’s Right To Fly Confederate Battle Flag

The South Carolina and American flags flying at half-staff behind the Confederate flag ere
Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney—the 2012 GOP presidential nominee who lost a winnable race against President Barack Obama—attacked the Confederate battle flag that hangs at a Civil War memorial at the South Carolina state capitol on Saturday, and is now refusing to answer any questions about the matter.

Romney’s comment mimics several bastions of the Institutional Left in linking the flag to the nine murders at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dylann Roof has confessed to that attack, and says he spent months planning it.

Romney’s position differs from the position historically taken by conservatives and Republicans.

“Governor Bush, a few blocks from here on top of the state Capitol building, the Confederate Flag flies with the state flag and the U.S. Flag,” then-anchor Brian Williams of NBC News asked candidate George W. Bush during a Jan. 7, 2000, presidential debate. The crowd booed Williams as he continued: “It is as you can hear from the reaction of tonight’s crowd of 3,000 people in South Carolina a hot-button issue here. The question is: Does the flag offend you personally?”

Bush crushed Williams with his answer, making the case that he thought America should let the people of South Carolina should make this decision for themselves.

“The answer to your question—what you’re trying to get me to do is to express the will of the people of South Carolina, is what you’re trying to get me to do,” Bush said.

As Williams tried to cut him off by saying “no, I’m asking you about your personal opinion,” Bush kept talking over Williams—and the crowd cheered him on.

“The people of South Carolina,” Bush said before the audience roared in applause. When they quieted down again after nearly a full minute of applause, Bush completed his answer: “Brian, I believe the people of South Carolina can figure out what to do with this flag issue. It’s the people of South Carolina.”

“If I may—if I may,” Williams tried to interrupt. Bush wouldn’t allow it.

“I don’t believe it’s the role of someone from outside South Carolina, and someone running for president to come into this state and tell the people of South Carolina what to do with their business when it comes to the flag,” Bush continued, talking over Williams.

“As an American citizen—as an American citizen—do you have a visceral reaction to seeing the Confederate flag,” a determined Williams pressed Bush again.

“Ooh, Brian,” Bush began his reply as the crowd booed the liberal Williams, who a decade and a half later would see a massive fall from grace due to fabricating several stories over his career.

“As an American citizen, I trust the people of South Carolina to make the right decision for the people of South Carolina,” Bush replied.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also believes the flag should be allowed to fly.

“We’re not going to give this a guy [Roof] an excuse about a book he might have read or a movie he watched or a song he listened to or a symbol out anywhere. It’s him … not the flag,” Graham, who’s running for president now and has been endorsed by 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said in an interview with CNN with this week.

During the 2000 presidential election, McCain—who ran against Bush in the primary and lost, before going on to eight years later become the nominee and lose to Obama—took the exact same position as Bush. He later, according to the Associated Press, recanted—saying he only stood up for the right of the people of South Carolina to fly the flag for purely political purposes.

“I feared that if I answered honestly I could not win the South Carolina primary,” McCain said after dropping out of the race after Bush won South Carolina.

Bush stood by his support for South Carolina to make their own decision on the flag throughout the election.

”It’s the right of the state of South Carolina to make the decision on the flag,” he said in April 2000, after winning South Carolina’s primary.

So despite a handful of Republicans such as McCain—who campaigned publicly against this matter—supporting taking down the flag, it’s generally been a Republican position that each state can do what it wants with regard to things like this. It’s been a Democrat and liberal position, however, that the flag shouldn’t fly.

“The president has said before he believes the Confederate flag belongs in a museum. That’s still his position,” Obama White House spokesman Eric Schultz told CNN this week.

NAACP president Cornell Brooks, while in Charleston after Roof’s horrific act, called for the flag to be removed. “This was an act of racial terrorism,” Brooks said. ”That symbol has to come down!”

So after Romney Tweeted on Saturday that he thinks the flag should be pulled down to honor the victims’ families, Breitbart News went to him and his team with seven detailed questions about why he’s taking that position.

The first question Breitbart News asked went to the nature of how Romney even knows what the families of the victims want.

“Has Governor Romney — before he sent that Tweet out — spoken with any of the families of the Charleston shooting victims? How does he know what they want?” Breitbart News asked Romney’s team.

The second question Breitbart News asked was: “Has Governor Romney done any research whatsoever into the history of this flag? Has he talked to any experts about what it means? Has he read any books about it at all? Any scholarly articles? How does he know what he’s talking about?”

The third question went to why the flag has anything to do with Roof’s actions whatsoever.

“Dylann Roof confessed to shooting those people and planning it out ahead of time. How did the flag have anything to do with it?” Breitbart News asked Romney.

The fourth question, like the second one, gets to what Romney thinks of the meaning of the flag and where he gets his information about it.

“What does Governor Romney think the flag represents?” Breitbart News asked Romney. “What does he base his position on?”

Like the third question, the fifth question gets to why the flag is even part of this discussion.

“Who’s more responsible for these murders: the flag, or Dylann Roof?” Breitbart News asked Romney.

The sixth question was: “Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people see that flag on the SC Capitol grounds every year and have for decades,” Breitbart News asked Romney. “None of them kill people in cold blood engaging in premeditated murder of innocent people in a Church. Why does Governor Romney think that the flag led Dylann Roof to premeditate murder against several people in a Church?”

The seventh and final question to Romney goes to the substance of now former—and then future—President George W. Bush’s argument against Williams in the 2000 GOP primary debate in South Carolina.

“George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential election GOP primary, said he thought the people of South Carolina should decide whether they want the flag, not some outsiders. Why should a former Massachusetts governor–from one of the most liberal states in America–or someone from the Island of Manhattan tell anyone in South Carolina what to do?” Breitbart News asked Romney.

A Romney spokeswoman took offense to the questions—and has thus far refused to answer them.

“Your questions lead me to believe you are making assumptions about Governor Romney’s tweet that are not valid,” a Romney spokeswoman said in an email. “For instance, Governor Romney did not say the Confederate flag led to the shooting or contributed to it.”

It’s always been a wonder, since Romney lost the presidential election in 2012, that some Republicans keep listening to him. Several GOP presidential candidates visited him to kiss his ring just recently, and more continue to pay homage to the almighty Romney. His running mate who lost alongside him, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), is also treated like a God in Republican politics having this past month steered the entire Republican Party toward Obamatrade. 

Sure enough, in this instance, it happened yet again. Right after Romney made his Tweet, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—refusing to take the lead from his brother the former president, who proved he can win—took to Facebook to also support getting rid of the flag.

“My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear,” Jeb Bush said. “In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged. This is obviously a very sensitive time in South Carolina and our prayers are with the families, the AME church community and the entire state. Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward and I’m confident they will do the right thing.”


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