Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday that Gov. Martin O’Malley should not have to apologize to “Black Lives Matter” protestors, and said criticism of the Democratic presidential contender shows how “uptight” and “politically correct” the debate has become.
“We’re so uptight and politically correct now that you apologize for saying lives matter,” Bush said to reporters in Gorham, New Hampshire after attending a town hall campaign event.
“I know in the political context it’s a slogan, and should he have apologized? No. If he believes that white lives matter, which I hope he does, than he shouldn’t apologize to a group that seemed to disagree with it.”
Bush is the latest presidential candidate to weigh in on the slogan, which became popular online following the death of Trayvon Martin and growing frustrations around racial tensions in the United States.
Earlier Thursday, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had a very different take.
“I think it is essential that we all stand up and say loudly and clearly, yes, black lives matter. And we all have a responsibility to face these hard truths about race and justice, honestly and directly,” Clinton said at a campaign stop at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina.
She was also asked about the relationship between the African-American community and law enforcement, and responding by saying that the United States has to confront “systemic racism” in its law enforcement efforts.
“I think we first have to acknowledge and believe that black lives matter. This is not just a slogan, this should be a guiding principle,” Clinton told a crowd of 400.
O’Malley’s original comments came at a progressive event in Phoenix, Arizona he attended over the weekend that was interrupted by protestors chanting “Black Lives Matter” - he responded by saying “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”
Later he apologized for using the phrase in that context if it was perceived that he was minimizing the importance of blacks killed by police.
Fellow Democratic contender Bernie Sanders also faced off with protestors and became frustrated with their disruption, while Clinton skipped the event.