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Apr 20, 6:06 PM EDT

Church pastor where 9 were killed blasts political ad

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The pastor of a South Carolina church where nine black members were killed in a racist attack said Thursday that a political ad calling politicians weak and panicked for taking down the Confederate flag after the massacre was distasteful.

"The events of a racist committing murder is something that never should be utilized to advance someone's political career," Emanuel AME Pastor Eric Manning said.

Sheri Few, a Republican running for an open U.S. house seat in the northern part of South Carolina, released the ad on the internet Wednesday. In it, she stands in front of an American flag with a semi-automatic assault weapon.

"Weak politicians are too quick to blame a horrible tragedy on a flag, or a gun or even free speech. And that's how bad laws are made," Few said in the ad.

Manning said Few needs to remove the ad immediately.

"We lived the events of June 17, 2015, and now someone wants to utilize our pain for their political gain. There's just no call for that. I think it is distasteful, to be very candid and direct," Manning said.

Few is one of seven candidates running for the GOP nomination to replace Republican Mick Mulvaney, who left the U.S. House earlier this year to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Few said the ad will start running this weekend on cable channels in the district centered south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dylann Roof entered Emanuel AME and sat through Wednesday night Bible study for 45 minutes before opening fire during the closing prayer. He has been sentenced to death by a jury who found him guilty of federal hate crimes.

Few pointed out she never mentions the church specifically in her ad.

"I am a Christian. I love those people," Few said. "That's why I support the death penalty for that sick, deranged man. And I hope a liberal judge doesn't get in the way."


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins .

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