SALT LAKE CITY -- For a former Massachusetts Governor who never developed a strong following in the American South, Mitt Romney may have just exerted an outsized influence on its culture with a tweet.
The tweet said:
Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.
That was Saturday morning.
Romney was retweeted more than 44,000 times by Monday morning. One of the reply came from President Barack Obama, saying "Good point, Mitt."
Prior to the tweet, citizens were organizing protests over the flag. After Romney's tweet, the national media started asking every Republican presidential candidate what they thought about the controversy.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush issued a statement agreeing with Romney, but he was the only one.
Ben Carson said, "It's not going to make any difference. What's going to make a difference is, do we change people's hearts and minds?"
Rick Santorum said, "My opinion is we should let the people of South Carolina go through the process of making this decision."
Other candidates echoed those statements in various forms.
But South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime Romney supporter, sided with Romney and Bush, and her decision is most likely to shape debate as the legislature considers removing the flag.
Haley called a press conference Monday afternoon, saying, "On matters of race, South Carolina has a tough history. We all know that. Many of us have seen it in our own lives and the lives of our parents and our grandparents. We don't need reminders. In spite of last week's tragedy, we have come a long way since those days and have much to be proud of, but there's more we can do.”