Jeb Bush calls Confederate flag 'racist'

Jeb Bush, a 2016 GOP contender, called the Confederate flag "racist" Monday during his first campaign stop in South Carolina since a deadly shooting at a historic black church nearly two weeks ago.

Bush recalled his own efforts "to do something politically incorrect" and remove a flag with the Confederate symbol from outside the Florida state house when he was governor there.

"The symbols were racist," Bush said during a stop at a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in South Carolina, according to reports.

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"If you're trying to lean forward rather than live in the past, you want to eliminate the barriers that create disagreements," he added.

Bush canceled his campaign events in the early voting state in the immediate aftermath of the June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead.

The shooting galvanized public opposition to the flag. The suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year old white man, posed for pictures with the flag before the shooting.

After the shooting, Bush initially touted his own efforts to move the Confederate flag "from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged" in Florida.

On Monday, he also praised efforts by lawmakers in South Carolina to remove the fag.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and a number of high-profile state lawmakers last week called for the flag to be removed entirely from state grounds. The flag was moved a decade ago from the state house to a memorial within view of the capitol.