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Lindsey Graham runs for her life

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

“I think people are realizing that this guy cares about being popular in Washington more than in terms of [voters’] needs, “Harrison said, knocking Graham for appearing” on Sean Hannity every other night. “

Graham faces headwinds this year that were unexpected even a few months ago. He recently resorted to linking his campaign website during Fox News appearances, leading to his $ 28 million fundraiser in the third quarter, a record for a GOP Senate candidate, albeit only a fraction of the Harrison̵

7;s total. While Harrison draws larger crowds and appears to have momentum, Graham is projecting confidence and framing the election as a choice. Polls show a race to the margin of error.

“[Trump] it can be a handful; it can get in the way of one’s success, “Graham said in a short interview.” But as we get closer to voting day, there is a debate about where the country will go under his leadership versus that of the Democratic Party. And I think it’s getting better for us by the day. “

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

But Trump’s falling poll numbers are creating problems for Graham. Harrison’s campaign is covering the airwaves and the web with ads portraying the incumbent as untrustworthy and two-faced, indicating her transformation into a Trump cheerleader.

“[Voters] they tend to have a very low regard for hypocrites, “House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said in an interview prior to Harrison’s rally, while audio of Graham slamming Trump in 2016 rang in background.

“And they look at these candidates, and when they can see the authenticity, they tend to believe it. That’s what Jaime did, ”added Clyburn, who calls Harrison her protege.

Graham on Friday declined to say whether Trump is helping or hurting him, even if he hugs the president.

All things being equal, the candidate with an “R” next to his name wins in the entire state of South Carolina, based on the composition of the electorate. So Graham is looking for a fourth term by losing his bipartisan credit and presenting himself as a conventional Republican.

In reality, things are not all the same in this election and 65-year-old Graham is anything but a traditional Republican.

He sailed towards re-election in 2014 after rejecting the tea party, isolating himself from right-wing detractors who called his restraint on immigration and gun control, among other issues. He was once a Republican for Democrats who wanted to strike a deal, and in 2014 he stuck with his long-held beliefs and maintained his reputation for telling the truth despite a primary challenge from the right.

The difference between the 2014 Graham and the 2020 Graham isn’t hard to tell apart. On Friday he rallied alongside Nancy Mace, who challenged him from the right in 2014 and is now up against first term rep Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.). Mace and Graham were bitter rivals, just like Graham and Trump were during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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

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

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

Graham insists that he hasn’t changed, that “I’m my man” despite his willingness to work with Trump. He was keen to tell reporters after Friday’s rally that he voted for liberal judges Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who believes the climate is changing and wants undocumented immigrants to have a path to citizenship.

“[Harrison] he’s getting money from every liberal in the country who hates my courage. What happens here now? “Graham exclaimed.“ I’m the guy who sat with the Democrats for over a decade trying to solve a complicated problem like immigration, to my detriment. What has changed is the radical nature of the Democratic Party. “

But Graham’s bipartisan past didn’t help him in 2020 – that’s why he didn’t mention it to rally attendees wearing Trump t-shirts and holding Graham’s campaign signs. Instead, he focused on Democrats’ vague threats of punishment against Republicans for pushing Barrett. He warned voters that Democrats, if they control the levers of power in Washington, will cede control to the “radical left” by bundling up the Supreme Court, getting rid of the Electoral College, bombing legislative filibuster, allowing illegal immigration to ramp up, and raise taxes.

“This is an election that people must be excited about,” said Greg Powell, a retired veteran and GOP voter who attended Graham’s rally on Friday. When asked about the outside money pouring into the state, Powell joked, “The bright side is that I think it’s good for the economy.”

Darren Sweet, a Graham voter, complained that “there is no middle ground left” in the country and said he appreciated the fact that Graham has worked with the Democrats in the past.

In the final days of the campaign, Graham is massacring the state to further his efforts to confirm Barrett. “The only problem I might have, I think, is if people are pleased and not vote,” he said.

Harrison, 44, is associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was previously chairman of the state Democratic Party. His party identity is his greatest responsibility, Republicans say here.

“As the campaign has gone on now, Graham’s campaign has begun to make people very aware of problematic positions [Harrison] represents, his party represents, ”said Republican state party chairman Drew McKissick. “And it moves him further and further away from ordinary South Carolina residents.”

Harrison made the contest competitive not only because of the loads of money he raised, but because his campaign led to a massive turnout effort in every corner of the state, targeting not only Democrats, but also the dissatisfied Republicans.

Harrison’s ads – you can’t miss them when you turn on the TV – are getting more creative as his campaign continues to raise record sums of money. A recent Harrison announcement sought to lure conservative voters to Bill Bledsoe, the Constitution Party candidate who has since backed Graham but remains in the ballot.

The announcement highlights Bledsoe’s support for Trump and his opposition to gun control laws, with the aim of turning conservatives away from Graham.

Graham and Trump have always been a strange pairing, particularly after their bitter rivalry during the 2016 campaign. Graham said he wanted to put aside his differences with Trump to help him become a better president and help his home state. . But some Democrats see it as almost natural that they have an affinity for each other.

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

Harrison, a lawyer and former staff member of the Clyburn’s House office, became the most animated when he spoke of Graham’s overturning for holding a Supreme Court seat in an election year. It was a betrayal, the Democrat said.

“When you lie to your constituents,” Harrison said, “this is the biggest farce a public official can ever do.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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