Republican candidate Jeb Bush cancelled an appearance planned for Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18. A mass murder at a local black church sent ripples throughout the country. Nine people were killed in the shooting on the evening of June 17, allegedly by lone gunman Dylann Roof – who is now in custody.
In a statement, the Bush campaign said "Governor Bush's thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy." He had decided in the hours after the shooting to eschew an appearance in the grieving city.
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Charleston on the day of the shooting but then left for Nevada. In a Twitter statement, the former Secretary of State said, "Heartbreaking news from Charleston -- my thoughts and prayers are with you all."
Among the other presidential candidates to express sympathy was Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "We are all heartbroken by this tragedy….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," he said. Graham has cancelled events planned for New Hampshire and is returning to South Carolina.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, tweeted, "Kelley and I are praying for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy in Charleston."
Dr. Ben Carson, another one of the Republican candidates, declared on Facebook: "Last night evil walked the streets of Charleston. My heart aches for the families of the victims. I pray for the families left behind. I pray for the community scared and hurting. I also pray you and I can conquer hatred. In my lifetime I have seen such great progress. Though racial based hate is still very much alive as last night so violently reminded us. But I worry about a new hate that is growing in our great nation. I fear our intolerance of one another is the new battle ground of evil. ... The America I know and love has fought evil all over the world to protect evil's victims. At home we must dedicate ourselves to not hating anyone based on their politics. Our leaders have walked our country down this path and it is up to us to change course."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, declared, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of last night's shooting in Charleston, who were tragically taken from us as they gathered together in prayer inside their place of worship. While details are still emerging, I have faith in law enforcement that the perpetrator of this evil and senseless act will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Twitter, that he was "Saddened by the news from Charleston. The victims and their families are in my prayers today."
CNN News personality and civil rights advocate Al Sharpton is planning to visit Charleston. Speaking on MSNBC, Sharpton "Again, I'm back and forth on the phone. I will do whatever is helpful to the families and the situation," Sharpton said.
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