COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison have several contrasts between theirs in their first debate in a fundraising race that is one of the most closely watched Senate competitions this cycle Campaigns drawn but also presented ready to work on the aisle to make legislative progress.
In his quest for a fourth term, Graham – chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – also argued for his current primary objective in Congress: the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s youngest Supreme Court candidate.
After Harrison ̵
Harrison described himself as willing to work with Republicans on a wide variety of issues and described when, as the state Democratic chairman, he became close friends with his GOP colleague. He also criticized the longstanding legislature’s previous support for 12-year time limits, adding, “I believe the final term is in the power of the people of South Carolina.”
In response, Graham promoted himself as a Conservative who wasn’t afraid to partner with Democrats. He mentioned issues like immigration and told voters, “You can limit my term on November 3rd if you wish.”
From his opening speech to almost every response in the hour-long debate, Graham advocated conservative justice, particularly Amy Coney Barrett, whom he described as a “buffer for liberalism” and in which he hoped “not to be treated like Kavanaugh” their upcoming confirmation hearings.
It was Graham’s fiery defense of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 that helped cement his close relationship with Trump and renew support from some who had not viewed Graham as conservative enough to represent South Carolina. At that moment, Graham said on Saturday, also angered liberals, who he now says are putting $ 100 million into Harrison’s campaign and support groups, in an attempt to oust him.
“Where the hell does all the money come from?” Asked Graham. “This is about liberals who hated my courage when I stood up for Kavanaugh. This is about my helping President Trump. “
Harrison, 44, criticized Graham, 65, for his conflicting positions on the fairness of filling Supreme Court vacancies in a presidential year.
“Senator, you said ‘use my words against me,'” said Harrison, referring to Graham’s 2018 comments on the matter. “Their promise was that no candidate would be allowed to run into justice in the final year of an election. … how good is your word? “
Graham made repeated references to his support from two candidates for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court, saying Barrett would be “sustained because the President has the constitutional authority” to do so.
The ongoing pandemic played a role both on the stage and in structuring the debates. At Allen University, a historically black institution in Colombia, members of the public were not allowed to attend the event. The media and campaign staff inside were dispersed and had to fill out questionnaires that found no exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus.
After several senators announced they would test positive for COVID-19, Republican leaders announced on Saturday that they would stop legislative work until October 19. According to the leadership, Barrett’s hearings, slated to begin October 12, will not be frustrated Graham said Friday that Senators could attend virtually.
Candidates spoke of podiums that were 13 feet apart. Harrison’s podium was screened off by a plexiglass partition on the side closest to Graham. This was used in accordance with federal recommendations that anyone in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 should be quarantined for 14 days.
Both candidates say they tested negative on Friday, but Graham recently met with fellow Senate Republicans – some of whom tested positive for the coronavirus – as well as Trump, who is currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
“You have nothing to worry about when it comes to me,” Graham said to Harrison in his opening speech, referring to the plexiglass.
Of his split, Harrison said he had taken every precaution to protect himself and his loved ones.
“It’s not just about me, it’s about the people in my life that I need to take care of, including my two boys, my wife, my grandma,” Harrison said.
When Graham was later asked about the number of officials who recently contracted COVID, he reiterated his commitment to keep the economy and government going during the pandemic, noting, “The virus is a problem that originated in China came, not from Trump Tower. “
Harrison’s campaign officials said they raised $ 340,000 during the debate and the hour that followed. Graham’s campaign said they were “not discussing these numbers”. The two men are due to debate on October 9th.