“Lindsey, just man up and say, ‘I changed my mind,’” Harrison exclaimed in an interview after a “drive-in” rally with some 250 cars.
“I think people are waking up to the fact that this guy cares more about being popular in D.C. than he does in terms of addressing [voters’] needs,” Harrison said, knocking Graham for appearing “on Sean Hannity every other night.”
Graham faces headwinds this year that were unforeseen even a few months ago. He recently resorted to plugging his campaign website during appearances on Fox News, leading to his $28 million fundraising haul in the third quarter, a record for a GOP Senate candidate if only a fraction of Harrison’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 margin-of-error race.
“[Trump] can be a handful; he can get in the way of his own success,” Graham said in a brief interview. “But as we get closer to voting day, there’s a comparison going on of 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. “This is about the future of your country.”
But Trump’s sagging poll numbers are creating problems for Graham. Harrison’s campaign is blanketing the airwaves and the web with ads portraying the incumbent as untrustworthy and two-faced, pointing to his transformation into a Trump cheerleader.
“[Voters] tend to have a very low regard for hypocrites,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in an interview before Harrison’s rally, as audio of Graham slamming Trump in 2016 blared in the background.
“And they look at these candidates, and when they can see authenticity, they tend to buy into it. That’s what Jaime has done,” added Clyburn, who calls Harrison his protégé.
Graham on Friday declined to say whether Trump is helping or hurting him, even as he embraces the president.
All things being equal, the candidate with an “R” next to his or her name wins statewide in South Carolina, based on the makeup of the electorate. So Graham is seeking a fourth term by shedding his bipartisan cred and portraying himself as a conventional Republican.
In reality, all things are not equal in this election, and the 65-year-old Graham is anything but a traditional Republican.
He sailed to reelection in 2014 after beating back the tea party, insulating himself from detractors on the right who called out his moderation on immigration and gun control, among other issues. He was once a go-to Republican for Democrats who wanted to cut a deal, and in 2014 he stuck with his long-held beliefs and maintained his truth-telling reputation despite a primary challenge from the right.
The difference between the Graham of 2014 and the Graham 2020 isn’t hard to make out. On Friday he rallied alongside Nancy Mace, who challenged him from the right in 2014 and is now running against first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.). Mace and Graham were bitter rivals, just as Graham and Trump were during the 2016…
Read More News: Lindsey Graham runs for his life