Republican presidential candidates led audiences at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Washington conference Friday in prayer and expressed outrage over the shootings of nine church-goers in Charleston.
Nine people were killed Wednesday at an historic Charleston black church. Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged.
The candidates have been speaking to the coalition at a Washington hotel.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, before starting his speech, said a prayer. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson asked for a moment of silence.
“You know, these things hit so close to home. And if we don't pay close attention to the hatred and the division that's going on in our nation, this is just a harbinger of what we can expect,” said Carson, who is African-American.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had a personal recollection.
“I was traveling to campaign in Charleston the day before yesterday; got in at 11 o'clock at night. And we saw the tragic story and our hotel was literally a block away from the AME Church. And it was not appropriate to continue to campaign,” he said.
“But it is appropriate to mourn because we know that a house of God is a house of peace and brotherhood, and the violence that took place in that church just breaks our heart.”
Bush noted how the shooting were “an evil act of aggression. I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes, but I do know -- I do know what was in the heart of the victims.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a veiled reference to laws.
"This type of conduct is something that only our display of our own love and the faith that’s in our heart can change," he said. “Laws can’t change this.”