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Nikki Haley's Confederate Flag Story

Nikki Haley formally launched her campaign for president on Wednesday, a day after announcing it via video. The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador (who earned strong bipartisan marks for her performance in that role) is now the second major declared candidate for 2024, joining Donald Trump in the race.

In 2015, Haley put herself on the national political map with her response to a racist mass killing at a historically Black church in Charleston, in which she called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds. The state soon did so, with legislators voting in favor of the move by overwhelming margins, despite previous polls that showed strong public support for the flag remaining there.

Haley earned widespread praise, including from President Barack Obama, who cited her “eloquence on the subject” in his eulogy for the victims.

But it’s also been a delicate issue for her, as it is for much of the Republican Party. South Carolina was among the last Southern states to distance itself from the flag, and Haley had for years demurred on the issue and suggested it wasn’t a big deal. She was clearly a vital early backer when the flag did come down, though her call came after that of a handful of key GOP figures. And in the years since taking that stand, she has lamented that the Charleston killings sullied a flag that for many represents heritage rather than racism.

Below is a timeline of Haley and the Confederate flag.

2000: South Carolina becomes the last state to remove the Confederate flag from its seat of government. But as part of a compromise crafted by Gov. Jim Hodges (D), the flag would continue to fly on a 30-foot pole in front of the Capitol.

2004: After upsetting a longtime GOP incumbent in a primary, Haley is elected state representative.

2009: Haley runs for governor. She and other GOP gubernatorial candidates are asked about the flag at a debate and express no interest in trying to remove it from the State House grounds. “There were a lot of hurt feelings” on both sides of the Confederate flag issue, she says, adding: “I would not want to revisit that issue.”

2010: In an interview with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Haley indicates the Confederate flag issue is settled, because it takes two-thirds of the legislature to make any further changes: “So it’s not something I see as a priority right now.” She adds that she will work to talk with groups critical of the flag “about the heritage and how this is not something that is racist.” (She also pauses when asked about celebrating a Confederate History Month before saying she would support it. “The same as you have Black History Month, and you have Confederate History Month and all of those, as long as it’s done in a positive way and not a negative way.”)

Read entire article at Washington Post