U.S. presidential candidates react to South Carolina church shootings

(Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidates and politicians likely to enter the race used social media and other means on Thursday to express their reaction to news a white gunman had killed nine people in a historic black church in South Carolina on Wednesday.


Here are comments from some of the candidates:


"There are bad people in this world who are motivated by hate ... Every decent person has been victimized by the hateful, callous disregard for human life shown by the individual who perpetrated these horrible acts. Our sense of security and well-being has been robbed and shaken."

- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in a statement


"Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by the tragic events in Charleston."

- Republican Jeb Bush, on Twitter. The former Florida governor canceled an appearance scheduled for Thursday morning in Charleston


"Heartbreaking news from Charleston - my thoughts and prayers are with you all. -H"

- Democrat Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state who spoke in Charleston on Wednesday, on Twitter


"The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, became a scene of unspeakable carnage because an evil person violated the sanctuary where earth and heaven meet and turned it into a place where earth and hell meet. No civilized person can react except with revulsion at such a senseless, cowardly, and despicable act ... The prayers that were interrupted by a mass murderer will be continued by a grieving nation."

- Former Republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Facebook


"Our prayers for the families & friends of loved ones killed in Charleston, S.C. - SKW"

- Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is expected to announce whether he will run next month, on Twitter


"This is a time for healing, not politics. I look forward to returning to South Carolina and continuing our discussion on how we can best move our country forward. Until that time our prayers and deepest condolences are with the people of Charleston and the families of those who have been torn apart by this senseless act of violence and hate.”

- Republican Donald Trump, who canceled a Friday campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Twitter


"@AnitaPerryTX joins me in praying today for Charleston and all who have been affected by this unspeakable tragedy."

- Former Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry on Twitter


"The Charleston church killings are a tragic reminder of the ugly stain of racism that still taints our nation. This senseless violence fills me with outrage, disgust and a deep, deep sadness."

- Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders in a statement on his website


"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of last night’s shooting in Charleston, who were tragically taken from us as they gathered together in prayer inside their place of worship."

- Republican Senator Ted Cruz on his campaign website


"Kelley and I are praying for everyone affected by this senseless tragedy in Charleston."

- Republican Senator Rand Paul and wife


"Saddened by the news from Charleston. The victims and their families are in my prayers today."

- Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Twitter


"My heart just breaks for the families ... I'm also outraged. This is evil ... this is beyond evil. This is horrific. This monster needs to be tracked down, needs to be brought to justice."

- Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, expected to announce his intentions next Wednesday, on CNN


"Karen and I extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the victims of the despicable horror in Charleston. -RJS

- Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum on Twitter


"There are no words to express our sadness and horror at the shooting in Charleston last night. While we are still learning the details of this senseless act, if early reports prove accurate, this hate crime is a particularly heinous form of violence."

-Former Republican New York Governor George Pataki in a statement


"My heart and prayers go out to Charleston, the families who have lost loved ones, and everyone who is hurting because of this hateful crime ... Please join me in praying for these families and this community."

- Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich on Facebook. He is expected to announce his candidacy soon.


"My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy & their loved ones. Katie & I are keeping Charleston & the AME community in our prayers."

- Former Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley on Twitter


"Last night, evil walked the streets of Charleston. My heart aches for the families of the victims. I pray for the families left behind. I pray for the community scared and hurting. I also pray you and I can conquer hatred."

- Republican Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon and political newcomer, on Facebook


"My heart goes out to the Charleston community and to the victims of this horrific and senseless act."

- Former Democratic Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee


(Compiled by Bill Trott; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)