New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) late Tuesday praised South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) for her efforts to remove the “divisive” Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds, but argued that doing so wouldn’t go very far towards combating racism.
“Governor (Nikki) Haley has demonstrated what it means to be a leader during extremely difficult and tragic times for her state and our country,” Christie said in a statement, as quoted by NJ.com. “I commend Governor Haley for her decision to remove the flag from the grounds of the state capitol.”
Christie’s comments came a day after Haley called for the state legislature to take the necessary steps to remove the flag following the massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. Virtually all of the 2016 GOP presidential contenders had already weighed in on whether or not the flag should come down.
Christie said that removing the flag would be an empty gesture, though, if America didn’t also come to grips with the “ugly hate and racism” displayed by the white Charleston gunman.
“While this is a necessary step towards addressing a divisive symbol of racism in our country, this step will mean little if we do not also honestly confront and discuss the fact that these murders were born out of ugly hate and racism,” his statement continued, as quoted by NJ.com. “That is what we must stand up against and fight even more than any symbol; it is long overdue that we not only shine a light on and condemn the symbols of hate, but on the haters themselves as well.”
Christie has not announced a 2016 presidential bid yet, although Politico reported late Tuesday that the New Jersey governor could officially jump into the fray as early as next week.