Two of the state legislators chairing Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign in South Carolina defended the Confederate flag this week after the state’s Republican governor called for its removal from state Capitol grounds.
State Sen. Lee Bright (R), a member of Cruz’s leadership team, said that removing the flag would dishonor the memory of those who fought for South Carolina during the Civil War, according to the Spartanburg Herald Journal. He added that the media was trying to create conflict by turning the flag into a wedge issue, characterizing the movement to do away with it and other symbols of the Confederacy as a “Stalinist purge.”
In a later interview with Politico, Bright said that he hadn’t spoken with the Cruz campaign about the issue and would “encourage presidential candidates to let us deal with this.”
A spokesman for Cruz’s presidential campaign told Business Insider that the candidate would be leaving the matter of the flag up to those local lawmakers.
“What Senator Cruz has said is that this is an issue for the state of South Carolina and South Carolinians to sort out and I think that’s what you’re watching happen,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told the news site.
Another of Cruz’s campaign co-chairs in the Palmetto State, state Rep. Bill Chumley (R), voted against opening debate on the flag. Chumley also told CNN on Tuesday night that he believed it more urgent to debate the fact that no one present at the massacre of nine black Charleston churchgoers was armed.
“We need to be focusing on the nine families that are left and see that this doesn’t happen again,” Chumley said in the CNN interview. “These people sat in there, and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad. But somebody in there with the means of self defense could have stopped this. And we’d have had less funerals than we’re having.”