Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Thursday that "Black Lives Matter" is a "slogan" and that Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley should not have had to apologize to activists for using the words "all lives matter" instead.
"We’re so uptight and so politically correct now that you apologize for saying lives matter? " he told a reporter in New Hampshire. "Life is precious. It’s a gift from God. I frankly think that it’s one of the most important values that we have. I know in the political context, it’s a slogan, I guess."
Footage of the exchange was publicized by Democratic group American Bridge.
O'Malley apologized over the weekend after being booed at progressive conference Netroots Nation for saying "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." Some progressive activists argue that using the phrase "all lives matter" ignores the specific injustices faced by African-Americans.
"I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue," O'Malley said when he apologized for the comment.
But Bush on Thursday said that O'Malley shouldn't have felt the need to apologize.
"Should he have apologized? No. If he believes that white lives matter, which I hope he does, then he shouldn’t apologize to a group that seemed to disagree with it," he said.
Hillary Clinton weighed in on the issue earlier Thursday during a campaign event in South Carolina.
"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," she said.