Graham hosts rally in Columbia as Senate race reaches the final stretch

Updated: Oct. 17, 2020 at 7:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In the final stretch of a close Senate race, Sen. Lindsey Graham is encouraging supporters to vote early and pointing to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as an example of why conservative voters should support him.

“This is the biggest choice election I think in the history of South Carolina,” Graham told reporters after the rally.

Election forecasters including the Cook Political Report and Real Clear Politics have called the race between Graham and his challenger, former S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, a “toss-up.”

In two recent polls, Graham is leading by 6 percentage points, but previous polls have the race as a statistical tie.

Both candidates hit the trail Saturday, while Graham was in Columbia, Harrison was getting ready for a “drive-in” rally in North Charleston, Harrison’s first in-person campaign event since the end of August.

RELATED STORY Ι EXCLUSIVE: Harrison reacts to criticism, discusses rural agenda, and attacks Graham for not wearing a mask

The events come after both candidates grabbed national attention for their record-breaking third-quarter fundraising.

Harrison raised $57 million, beating the record for the amount raised in a single quarter in a Senate race. The previous record-holder was Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke with $38 million in 2018. Graham raised $28 million in the same period, a record for a Senate Republican.

“You know why they are spending all this money in South Carolina? Revenge. To take me out because I stood in the way of their desire to destroy Kavanaugh,” said Sen. Graham about his staunch support of Justice Kavanaugh during his nomination.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham has been leading the hearings for the nomination of President Trump’s latest pick for the high court, Amy Coney Barrett. On Saturday, Graham called on his challenger to say whether he would support Barrett if he was currently in the Senate.

“Quit playing games with the American people. Jaime Harrison, how will you vote? Will you vote for Barrett or not?” Graham asked while looking straight into the cameras. “If you oppose her just say so, if you are for her just say so,” he added.

At the event, Graham also encouraged voters to get out and vote early to prevent long lines on Election day, which would potentially discourage people to vote.

“To the state legislature and the Governor thanks for making it easier to vote,” the Senator said.

Graham also thanked his supporters and specifically his colleague Sen, Tim Scott (R-SC), and former Gov. Nikki Haley for their help in his reelection efforts.

“It’s not about the color of your skin in South Carolina, it’s about the ideas you embrace,” he said.

This statement comes after Graham received criticism for the comments he made at a forum earlier this month.

In response to questions about whether he supports or opposes Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, Harrison responded, "For the sake of South Carolina families and businesses, I wish Sen. Graham treated COVID relief with just a small fraction of the urgency as he did with this Supreme Court vacancy. Harrison added, “His rush to advance this nomination this week also proved once again that Lindsey Graham’s word is utterly meaningless, as someone who promised on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t rush a nomination this close to a presidential election. South Carolina voters understand where his values and priorities lie.”

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