As Charleston mourns the loss of the nine people killed during a bible study Wednesday evening at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, presidential hopefuls take to the press and social media to provide statements of condolence and solidarity with those affected by yesterday’s tragedy.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a statement today responding to the tragedy in the state which he represents.
“To the families of the victims, please know that you are being prayed for and loved by so many in the community and across the nation. I pray that God will provide you healing in the coming days,” said Graham in the statement. “There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate. Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts.”
Graham said his niece, Emily Graham, is a former classmate of alleged shooter, Dylann Roof. “I just think one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that,” Graham said in a phone interview with CNN in which he relayed a description of Roof from his niece and sister Darline Graham Nordone. “It’s about a young man who is obviously twisted.”
Republican hopeful Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) provided a brief statement on his Twitter page after canceling an appearance scheduled for Thursday morning in South Carolina.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by the tragic events in Charleston.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) June 18, 2015
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) responded with a religious take on Wednesday’s shooting on-air at AM 970 in New York with radio personality, Joe Piscopo.
“All you can do is pray for those and pray for our country. This is one of those situations where you just have to take a step back and say we — you know, you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before,” Santorum said. “It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.”
Retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Ben Carson posted a lengthy response on his Facebook page Thursday morning, calling on the country to “conquer hatred” by prioritizing acceptance of different views and ideologies.
“I fear our intolerance of one another is the new battle ground of evil. Today many feel it is ok to hate someone who thinks differently than you do,” Carson said. “Please join me in praying for our great nation, that we may heal ourselves before it is too late.”
Democratic hopefuls also took to Twitter to respond to last night’s shooting.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) appeared as one of few hopefuls to explicitly comment on the alleged racist motives for the shooting, which police are calling a hate crime.
The Charleston church killings are a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation. pic.twitter.com/3R4zKLqq2q
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 18, 2015
Updated with more statements.