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House speaker stands by his statement that Confederate battle emblem on state flag is divisive

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PHILADELPHIA, Mississippi — Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn says he stands by his statement that Mississippi should remove the Confederate battle emblem from its flag because he believes it's divisive.

About two dozen flag supporters stood in silent protest, holding the state banner, while Gunn spoke Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair. Gunn joked that they were forming a fan club for him. Then he said, in a more serious voice, that America is great because people can express differing opinions.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and four candidates who are trying to unseat him also spoke Thursday.

Bryant says Mississippi is thriving under his leadership.

Vicki Slater, one of the Democrats running for governor, says Bryant has failed the state in education, health care and economic development.

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