Graham appears to imply Black liberals are not welcome in South Carolina

'If you're a young African-American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state. You just need to be conservative, not liberal,' Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a candidate forum Friday

On Friday, Lindsey Graham, the senior U.S. senator from South Carolina, appeared on a local news forum in lieu of a debate with Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison.

During the forum, Graham was asked about the civil unrest in the nation against the mistreatment of Black people in America. His answer implied that their safety depended on their political party affiliation.

“I care about everybody. If you’re a young African-American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state. You just need to be conservative, not liberal,” Graham said in the forum on WLTX-19.

Graham, deadlocked in the polls against Harrison, was addressing the idea of police reform and supporting Black Lives Matter during the forum. Before making that comment, he suggested that he supported police reform, but denied that police are “systemically racist” and that South Carolina is a racist state. He constantly touted South Carolina’s junior Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, throughout the forum.

READ MORE: Harrison-Graham Senate race considered ‘a toss-up’ by noted analyst

Here, Graham used him as an example of how Harrison needed to be if he wanted to win the race.

“My opponent’s going to lose, not because of race, but because he’s aligned with the most liberal people in the country,” Graham said of Harrison, speaking of his support of Democrats, namely New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Graham said that South Carolina is a state with historically conservative ideals and that Harrison is attempting to compromise that.

(Photo: Jamie Harrison for US Senate)

“He’s raising $50 million from liberals all over the country to flip this state into the Democratic column. It’s not going to work,” he said.

Of South Carolina’s nine elected representatives in Washington, D.C., just one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate are Black. That includes Democrat Jim Clyburn, who is the House Majority Whip and among the longest-serving Black elected officials on Capitol Hill.

Of the roughly 5 million residents in the state, about 27% identify as Black or African American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The forum, hosted by the state’s chamber of commerce and Nextar Media Group, was broadcast from Spartansburg, South Carolina. The two candidates each received about an equal amount of speaking time of nearly 30 minutes.

Each was alone on the set with the moderators during the event. They were originally expected to do a more traditional debate format, but Harrison refused to do so when Graham declined to take a COVID-19 test.

READ MORE: Plexiglass separates Jaime Harrison and Lindsey Graham during debate

Graham stated that he had a negative test result one week prior and that he had a doctor’s note indicating that he was “CDC compliant.” Harrison did not feel safe doing the debate in the same room with Graham without a more up-to-date test.

See the full forum here:

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