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Obama thinks Confederate flag 'belongs in a museum'

Obama thinks Confederate flag 'belongs in a museum'
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President Obama believes the Confederate flag “belongs in a museum,” the White House said Friday amid calls for it to be taken down, following a mass shooting in South Carolina. 

“The president has said before he believes the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and that is still his position,” spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One. 

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A mass shooting at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., has renewed the debate over whether the Confederate battle flag should continue to fly in the state.

The suspected shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, reportedly drove a car with Confederate flag license plates. 

And while the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered to half-staff following the shooting, the Confederate flag that flies near the state capitol flew at full height, a move that drew criticism. 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s office said Thursday she could not lower the flag without approval from the state legislature. The GOP governor has dismissed calls to remove it in the past.  

Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordLobbying world 5 lawyers leave Trump impeachment team ahead of trial: reports South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Rice over impeachment vote MORE (R-S.C.), the Palmetto State’s former governor, said talking about removing the flag is like “opening Pandora’s Box.” 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase MORE (R), a 2016 presidential candidate, called the Confederate banner “part of who we are” as South Carolinians. 

NAACP President Cornell Brooks said Friday the flag must come down. He criticized those who say it’s simply a symbol of the state’s history, calling it an “emblem of hate.” 

“When we see that symbol lifted up as an emblem of hate, as a tool of hate, as an inspiration for hate, as an inspiration for violence, that symbol has to come down,” he said Friday in Charleston.

Obama first called for the Confederate flag to be retired to a museum in 2007 during his campaign for president, months before the South Carolina primary.