MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he didn’t initially offer his opinion on whether the Confederate flag should be taken down from the Capitol grounds in South Carolina because Gov. Nikki Haley asked him to hold off speaking about it.
Haley’s spokeswoman Chaney Adams confirmed the two Republicans spoke on Saturday, but did not say that Haley asked Walker not to comment.
Walker called Haley on Saturday to check in and let her know he was getting questions about the flag, Adams said. Haley told Walker that she had a plan to handle it, and that it was important that the movement come from inside the state and not outside, Adams said.
The flag’s placement on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse became a topic of debate after the shooting of nine parishioners during a Bible study meeting in a historic African-American church in Charleston.
The suspect held the Confederate flag in a photograph on a website and displayed the flags of defeated white-supremacist governments in Africa on his Facebook page.
Walker on Saturday, after speaking to religious conservatives in Washington, told reporters that the debate over whether the flag ought to remain on public land in South Carolina should be at the state level.
“I just think before I or anyone else weighs in on anything to do with policy, whether it’s this or any other policy decisions, we should honor the dead and the families by allowing them to bury their loved ones,” Walker went on to say. “And then you could perfectly ask me that question at some point in the next week or two when that’s done.”
Walker was criticized for not taking a position on whether the flag should stay or go.
On Monday, after Haley called for removing the flag, Walker said on Twitter that he was glad Haley was taking that position and he supported her.
“She asked me to wait,” Walker said. “I was fully prepared to say that it’s a state issue, but if it were me I would take it down. But I waited until she had a chance to get out front.”
Walker said he believes it’s more likely that the South Carolina Legislature will vote to remove the flag because Haley was able to build a coalition in the state to do it, rather than have the pressure come from outside the state.