From remarks Monday on CNN by former education secretary William Bennett:
I think it is a mistake [for George W. Bush and John McCain not to take a stand against the Confederate flag]. I think it's a mistake for the other candidates who are not saying much about it, either. Of course it's an issue the state has to decide. . . . But we have a right to know where people stand on it. And I think they should stand for the removal of that flag. . . .
When you put a flag up in a state capitol, it's a symbol of approbation. It's a symbol of what the state stands for. And although there were great individuals who fought for the Confederacy, and their individual memory should be honored, what that flag stood for was slavery and the separation of the Union. . . .
Candidates have not been reluctant to talk about what they'd do about education in a state. They haven't been reluctant to talk about the Vermont Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. They haven't been reluctant to talk about Medicare in the states, so on . . .
I'm talking about saying the right thing . . . even though it may bother or offend some people in South Carolina . . . In addition, however, I think in the general election this is going to come back and hurt John McCain or it's going to hurt George Bush. And that's something they need to consider as well. But the first reason you do it is because the people have a right to [know] your convictions.