ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from its Statehouse grounds, in part because the nation should unite under one banner while at war.
"I think about how many South Carolinians have served in our military and who are serving today under our flag and I believe that we should have one flag that we all pay honor to, as I know that most people in South Carolina do every single day," Clinton told The Associated Press in an interview.
"I personally would like to see it removed from the Statehouse grounds," the New York senator said during her first trip to the early voting state since announcing her White House bid.
Other Democratic hopefuls, including Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, have said the flag should come down. The banner, which once flew over the Statehouse dome and now flies nearby, is the subject of an ongoing NAACP boycott.
Clinton is one of several Democrats to draw huge crowds during campaign stops in the state, but she said during the interview that her party will have a tough time winning in GOP-heavy South Carolina
"I think it's going to be hard for any Democrat to carry the state," she said. "The Republican Party is very strong here."
Earlier in the day, Clinton spoke to more than 1,500 people gathered at Allen University, a historically black college in Columbia.
The senator picked up key endorsements last week from two black state senators who helped deliver black voters to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in 2004. One of those politicians, state Sen. Darrell Jackson, whose media company also picked up a $10,000 consulting contract from Clinton's campaign, introduced her to the Allen University crowd.
During the AP interview, Clinton said her campaign struck no deal with Jackson. "Senator Jackson has worked in Clinton campaigns going back to 1992," she said.