WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb on Sunday suggested that recent efforts to remove Confederate symbols from public places were as "divisive" as Donald Trump's disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants.
Without prompting from "Fox News Sunday" host Bret Baier, who had been asking questions about national security, Webb asked if he could please talk about Trump, the billionaire GOP candidate who has called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Webb criticized Trump before pivoting.
"This kind of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric by people who want to be commander-in-chief is not helpful, and we have seen from the liberal side as well this kind of rhetoric as it goes to Southern white cultures," the former Virginia senator said, apparently referring to recent debates over the Confederate flag.
"We need to be inclusive and recognize that we have problems and that we can come together to solve them," Webb said. "But don't be throwing these bombs to our cultural groups."
Democrats in Congress this week pushed a resolution calling for the removal of Confederate flags from the U.S. Capitol grounds, the latest phase of a push against the Southern icon sparked by the racially motivated mass murder of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church last month. On Friday, the Republican-controlled South Carolina state government took down the Confederate flag that had been flying at the state capitol building.
Webb has seemed eager to distinguish himself as the only Democratic candidate with a really nuanced take on the flag, in an apparent effort to win over white working-class voters who increasingly vote Republican. On Sunday, Baier asked Webb whether he thought efforts to remove Confederate symbols from public places were racial healing or political grandstanding. In response, Webb again compared the Confederate debate to Trump trashing Mexican immigrants.
"Unfortunately, I think you're seeing it from both sides, which is why I mention the situation with Donald Trump with respect to Mexican-Americans," Webb said. "We're seeing an issue which should have been resolved and now is resolved, flying the Confederate battle flag in public places, morphing into something different."
Webb then said he had talked about the issue with a close friend of his who happens to be African-American.
"He said, 'I was just at the barbershop and I asked the brothers what they thought about this, and they said, 'Here we go again. When are we going to talk about jobs? When are we going to talk about education? When are we going to talk about harmony and bringing people together?' And that's what inclusive leadership needs to be."