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June 19, 2015

Presidential hopefuls react to Charleston shooting

Christie says 'laws can't change this,' Clinton takes shot at Trump

Presidential candidates are addressing the fatal shooting of nine African-Americans in a historically black church in Charleston on Wednesday, allegedly at the hands of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who apparently had white supremacy sympathies.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to make a decision on whether or not to seek the Republican nomination in 2016 by the end of this month, said it was only the display of Americans' "love and good faith" that could battle conduct like this while speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

"Laws can't change this," Christie said, "Only the goodwill and the love of the American people can let those folks know that that act was unacceptable, disgraceful, and that we need to do more to show that we love each other." 

Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, said the shooting broke her heart, and noted that the incident should create a more open discussion about race and gun violence, according to The National Journal. 

In an interview with Dan Ralston of KNPB, Clinton also suggested that speeches like Donald Trump's announcement on Tuesday sparked the type of acts like the Charleston shooting. 

Saying that the public discourse on those issues can create individuals like the Charleston suspect, who has been charged with murder, Clinton took a shot at Trump's controversial comments about Mexican immigrants. 

"For example, a recent entry into the Republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexicans," Clinton said, "Everybody should stand up and say 'that's not acceptable.'"

U.S.  Senator from South Carolina and Republican presidential candidate Lindsay Graham has expressed condolences to the family of the victims of the shooting that occurred in his home state, calling the act "hateful."

In regards to the Confederate flag flying above the state capital, a point of controversy due to the apparent racial motives of Roof, Graham told CNN that the issue could be revisited, but that the flag was not the cause of the shooting, and neither were racist interpretations of the flag in movies and books.

"The problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world are not because of a movie or a symbol," Graham said. "It's because of what's in people's hearts."

Democratic candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said the issue was indicative of a continually relevant racial wound in our nation. In an email to supporters, Sanders asked for donations for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shooting occurred. 

This hateful killing is a horrific reminder that, while we have made important progress in civil rights for all of our people, we are far from eradicating racism," Sanders said in the email, according to MSNBC. 

Other Republican candidates have mostly avoided explicitly mentioning the potential racial motivations of Roof.