A hotly contested battle for a U.S. Senate seat in South Carolina is underway, with longtime Republican incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham set to square off against Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison. During a Friday night debate event, Sen. Graham said that Black residents and immigrants can “go anywhere” in the state as long as their political ideologies shift towards being conservative.
Because Sen. Graham rejected Harrison’s request that he take a coronavirus test ahead of the debate. With Harrison refusing to be in the same place as his opponent, the format of the faceoff shifted to a forum style question and answer session instead and hosted by local outlet News 19 WLTX.
While on location in Spartansburg, S.C., both Graham and Harrison were given 30 minutes of time over the course of an hour to field questions from a panel of moderators on a variety of issues. When pressed about the issue of police reform, Graham seemingly backed a common consensus that police should be reprimanded for wrongdoing but in the same instance saying that nationwide protests are acts of aggression towards keepers of the law.
However, the moment that has proved especially shocking was when Graham seemingly stated that the only path of political and personal success in South Carolina is to embrace conservative values.
“I am asking every African-American out there, look at my record,” Graham said. “I care about everybody, if you are a young African-American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state, you just need to be conservative, not liberal.”
It could be assumed Graham meant “go anywhere” to illustrate that Black South Carolinians can achieve success but only if they are leaning into conservative beliefs and views.
Harrison, who has slammed Graham and the GOP U.S. Senate body for stalling a coronavirus relief bill in favor of placing a conservative Supreme Court Justice on the bench, says that because of his health conditions, he will not debate Graham in a live format unless he takes a test.
Considering that many White House officials, including President Donald Trump, have come down with symptoms stemming from the coronavirus, Graham’s position is understandable.
Polls show the pair are largely tied, with Harrison, who has received tremendous nationwide support along with South Carolina voters getting behind his message, polling slightly ahead in some accounts.
The debate can be viewed below.