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Lindsey Graham is running for his life

“Lindsey, just get up and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,'” said Harrison in an interview after a “drive-in” rally with around 250 cars.

“I think people are starting to realize that this guy is more about being popular in DC than about speaking up [voters’] needs, ”said Harrison, knocking on Graham because he was“ performing every other night with Sean Hannity ”.

Graham is facing headwinds this year that were unforeseen a few months ago. He recently stuffed his campaign website while appearing on Fox News, resulting in his $ 28 million fundraiser in the third quarter, a record for a GOP Senate candidate, if only a fraction of Harrison̵

7;s total . While Harrison draws larger crowds and appears to have momentum, Graham projects confidence and notes choice as a choice. Surveys show a margin of error.

“[Trump] can be a handful; He can stand in the way of his own success, ”said Graham in a short interview. “But as we get closer to election day, there will be a comparison of where the country under his leadership will go with that of the Democratic Party. And I think it’s getting better for us every day. “

“This is not a personality contest,” added Graham, referring to Trump. “This is about the future of your country.”

But Trump’s falling polls are causing problems for Graham. Harrison’s campaign covers the radio waves and the internet with ads portraying the incumbent as untrustworthy and bilateral, indicating his transformation into a Trump cheerleader.

“[Voters] tend to have very little appreciation for hypocrites, “said Jim Clyburn (DS.C.), whip of the house majority, in an interview before Harrison’s rally, when audio was heard in the background from Graham slamming Trump in 2016.

“And they look at these candidates, and when they can see authenticity, they tend to get involved. That’s exactly what Jaime did, ”added Clyburn, who describes Harrison as his protégé.

Graham declined to say on Friday whether Trump will help or hurt him despite hugging the president.

If all things are equal, the candidate with an “R” next to their name wins nationwide in South Carolina based on the make-up of the electorate. So Graham is aiming for a fourth term by losing his bipartisan reputation and portraying himself as a conventional Republican.

The reality is that not all things are created equal in this election, and 65-year-old Graham is far from a traditional Republican.

Sailing for re-election in 2014 after knocking back the Tea Party, he isolated himself from right-wing critics who, among other things, exclaimed his moderation on immigration and gun control. He was once a Republican for Democrats looking to strike a deal, and in 2014 he clung to his long-standing beliefs and maintained his honest reputation despite a primary challenge from the right.

The difference between the 2014 Graham and the 2020 Graham is not difficult to see. On Friday he rallied next to Nancy Mace, who challenged him from the right in 2014 and is now up against first-time MP Joe Cunningham (DS.C.). Mace and Graham were fierce rivals, as were Graham and Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“She is now my team-mate,” said Graham in a brief interview. “That just tells you it’s not about Nancy and me … We put our differences aside to focus on what we have in common.”

Indeed, the Graham-Mace partnership is mutually beneficial. The Republicans are in trouble here, throwing aside their old grudges and litmus tests.

“It’s important … that we show unity to everyone,” Mace said in a brief interview after meeting Graham.

Graham insists that he has not changed, that “I am my own man” despite his willingness to work with Trump. He made it his business to tell reporters after Friday’s rally that he voted for Liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, that he believes the climate is changing and that he wants undocumented immigrants to find a way to Find citizenship.

“[Harrison] gets money from every liberal in the country who hates my courage. What’s going on here? “Exclaimed Graham.” I’m the guy who has sat down with Democrats for over a decade to solve a complex problem like immigration to my own detriment. What has changed is the radical nature of the Democratic Party. “

But Graham’s bipartisan past is not helping him in 2020 – which is why he hasn’t said anything to rally goers wearing Trump shirts and holding Graham campaign signs. Instead, he focused on the Democrats’ vague threats of retaliation against Republicans for getting Barrett through. He warned voters that if Democrats control the levers of power in Washington, they will cede control to the “radical left” by grabbing the Supreme Court, getting rid of the electoral college, destroying the legislative filibuster, and ramping up illegal immigration. and raise taxes.

“This is an election people need to be excited about,” said Greg Powell, a retired veteran and GOP voter who attended Graham’s rally on Friday. When asked about the money that goes into the state from outside, Powell quipped, “On the plus side, I think it’s good for the economy.”

Darren Sweet, a Graham voter, lamented that there was “no middle ground” in the country and said he appreciated Graham’s past work with Democrats.

In the final days of the campaign, Graham storms the state to fuel his efforts to validate Barrett. “The only problem I could possibly have is when people get complacent and don’t vote,” he said.

Harrison, 44, is vice chairman of the National Democratic Committee and was previously chairman of the state’s Democratic Party. His party ID is his greatest sole liability, say the Republicans here.

“As the campaign progressed, the Graham campaign began to bring people’s attention to the subject positions [Harrison] represents, represents his party, ”said Drew McKissick, leader of the Republican Party. “And it moves him further and further away from the regular South Carolinians.”

Harrison made the race competitive not only because of the boatloads of money he raised, but also because his campaign sparked massive voter turnout efforts in every corner of the state – one that affects not only Democrats but disaffected Republicans as well.

Harrison’s commercials – you can’t miss them if you turn on the television – gets more creative as his campaign continues to raise record highs in cash. A recent Harrison ad sought to attract conservative voters to Bill Bledsoe, the Constitutional Party’s candidate who has since endorsed Graham but continues to vote.

The ad highlights Bledsoe’s support for Trump and his opposition to gun legislation, which seeks to pull conservatives away from Graham.

Graham and Trump have always been an odd pairing, especially after their bitter rivalry during the 2016 campaign. Graham has said he wants to put aside his differences with Trump to help him become a better president and help his home state. But some Democrats take it almost natural that they would have an affinity for one another.

“One of the reasons Lindsey and Trump get along so well is because they only say what they think,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.). “There aren’t many filters.”

Harrison, an attorney and former clerk at Clyburn’s home office, got most animated when discussing Graham’s reversal of the Supreme Court occupation in an election year. It was treason, said the Democrat.

“If you lie to your constituents,” said Harrison, “it is the greatest travesty a civil servant can ever do.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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