South Carolina Senate race: Jaime Harrison tears into incumbent Lindsey Graham for backing Trump SCOTUS pick

South Carolina Senate race: Jaime Harrison tears into incumbent Lindsey Graham for backing Trump SCOTUS pick
Lindsey Graham and Jaime Harrison (Getty Images)

Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of the Republican Party’s senior-most voices in the Senate, is facing a tough reelection bid next month. The 65-year-old Graham, who is serving as a senator from South Carolina since 2003 and seeking his fourth term, is being challenged by first-time candidate Jaime Harrison — a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party — in the GOP stronghold.

Though Graham has tried to dismiss Harrison’s chances of winning the Senate election saying voters would not accept the Democrats for embracing the most radical agenda that he has ever seen, his stance on President Donald Trump’s controversial appointment of Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the iconic Supreme Court judge who passed away last month, has made the opponents’ attack sharper. Harrison was no exception and tore into his senior opponent during their first debate at Allen University, Columbia, SC, on Saturday, October 3.

'I want you to use my words against me'

Four years ago, Graham, along with the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined the GOP-controlled Senate’s resistance against former president Barack Obama’s nomination to the apex court as a replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia after he passed away. The Republicans refused to even give a hearing to Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee, saying a new judge should not be picked in an election year. Scalia’s replacement was only chosen in 2017 when Trump went for Neil Gorsuch. Then, Graham even said at a Senate meeting: “I want you to use my words against me”, swearing that he would hold the same position even if that meant objecting to a GOP president the opportunity to confirm his nominee.

But when the situation indeed became a reality, Graham did not care for his own pledge. As Trump and his allies rushed to find Ginsburg’s replacement fast, something that political observers believed they did in order to find a favorable ruling from the top court in case the upcoming election lands there for a decision, Graham joined the party to say he would back Trump’s choice. He even told the Democrats that had the shoe been on the other foot, they would have done the same.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Getty Images)

The Republican’s brazen reversal of stance was slammed by Harrison who called into question the former’s honesty at the debate. Harrison pointed out during the debate how Graham joined his fellow GOP lawmakers in refusing to give a hearing to Garland but backed Trump’s picking of Barrett ahead of the November 3 election. Trump picked Barrett on September 26, denying Ginsburg her last wish of getting replaced by a new president. It is the third appointment to the Supreme Court that Trump has made, following Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Harrison tears into Graham

“Senator, you said ‘use my words against me’,” Harrison told Graham, adding: “Your promise was that no judicial nominee should be approved during the last year of an election. ... How good is your word?” Graham responded to Harrison saying he had backed Obama’s SC nominees in the past — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — before adding that Trump has the “constitutional authority” to nominate Barrett as the president and that she was “going to be confirmed”. Graham said on an earlier occasion that soon after the nomination comes out of the Senate committee, the ball will be in the court of McConnell.

Harrison’s straight words were praised by his campaign’s Communications Director Guy King who told Newsweek in a statement that the former “offered his bold vision to bring principled, pragmatic leadership back to this US Senate seat” during the debate. He said Harrison “will lead every day with South Carolina values to protect healthcare access, expand broadband internet, and rebuild our rural communities”. The race between Graham and Harrison is one of the most watched one in this election season, especially with the latter raising huge funds in his campaign. He has raised a million and half dollars since his first debate with Graham this weekend where he spoke from behind a plexiglass barrier in order to shield himself and his family from the virus.



Two polls in September conducted by Quinnipiac showed the contest between Graham and Harrison tightening with each having 48 percent support. Another poll carried out by CBS/YouGov showed the incumbent senator leading by a solitary point over the Democratic challenger.

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