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Martin O'Malley to pay respects to Clementa Pinckney in Columbia

Democratic presidential hopeful former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley in New Castle, N.H., Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) ORG XMIT: otkcs117
Democratic presidential hopeful former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley in New Castle, N.H., Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) ORG XMIT: otkcs117 (Cheryl Senter / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON -- Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is visiting South Carolina today to pay his respects to the late state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people killed in last week's church shooting, a person with knowledge of his plans said.

O'Malley, who is running for president, had met Pinckney during an earlier stop in South Carolina, which holds one of the nation's first primaries. He noted the meeting during a speech over the weekend at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

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"Not long ago, I had the privilege to visit Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. And I sat with Rev. Senator Pinckney, and church leaders, and community leaders. Total hospitality, total generosity of heart," O'Malley said. "We spoke in that very same church basement about the hopes and dreams that we share for our country and for our children."

Pinckney will lie in state in Columbia today.

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Careful to avoid the appearance of politics, O'Malley is expected to be on the ground in the state for only an hour, and will not make other public appearances, according to CNN, which first reported his visit.

In the days following the shooting, O'Malley called for tougher gun laws and was also used his address on Sunday to argue for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds in South Carolina.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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