Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he understands why people are frustrated about the racially motivated shootings that left nine dead at a historic South Carolina church last month, but "burning the flag is not the answer."
"With what happened in South Carolina, we all need to be talking about it," Walker told the Fox News program "Fox & Friends,"
and that includes "denouncing the acts and beliefs of the racist evil man that did that."
Story continues below video.
A group called Disarm NYPD, which involves hundreds of activists, has announced plans to set fire to the American flag on Wednesday at a Brooklyn park at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, where thousands of Revolutionary War heroes are memorialized, to protest "systemic racism," reports NBC New York
, drawing fury from lawmakers and residents.
Walker, who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy later this month, said that with the July Fourth holiday approaching, law enforcement needs to be focused on security, not such protests.
"If there are resources diverted because of protests like this, it takes away from protecting the homeland and making sure our families are safe," the governor said. "I think families will be safe to enjoy with family and friends, [and] we need law enforcement focused on looking out for things.
"One of the best approaches is at the local level and [with] everyday citizens. If you see something, say something."
On Wednesday, Walker also addressed his continuing popularity in polls, which still puts him at or near the top of the crowded GOP presidential race even though he has yet to announce.
His poll ratings have dropped a bit, including in a new Quinnipiac poll
, where he netted 18 percent of the respondents, but he thinks that's because the field of candidates is wide enough that there are "a lot of interesting choices."
"That shows enthusiasm in Iowa and across the country for Republicans," said Walker. "I think what distinguishes us is people want someone new and fresh. They want someone outside Washington. They've had it with Washington. I think if we were to get in, what would really distinguish us is we fight and win."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who entered the nomination race on Tuesday, said that he's "battle ready" to take on Washington as he's worked "in the toughest state a conservative Republican could work in."
But Walker pointed out that there is a difference between merely fighting and that of fighting and winning.
"A lot of people have been telling us to get in the race because they say you fight and win," said Walker. "It's one thing to fight. A lot of people fight. We're good at fighting and winning. Not just three elections in four years, in a blue state in four years, but winning. You name it, we pass common sense reforms in the blue state."
Walker said that his sons, Matt and Alex, who are 21 and 20, respectively, are the reason he ran for governor and likely would be his reason for seeking the White House.
"I want them and every son and daughter like them to grow up in a better America than the one we grew up in," he said.
Watch the NBC News video here.
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