Skip to comments.South Carolina Senate GOP primary is 'David and Goliath' (Buddy Witherspoon vs Lindsey Graham)
Posted on 06/05/2008 6:23:04 AM PDT by Between the Lines
There's no mistaking Lindsey Graham's loyalties or liabilities as he seeks a second term in the U.S. Senate.
The 52-year-old Republican makes it clear that his future and that of Republican presidential candidate John McCain are tightly interwoven.
"My re-election, I think, will benefit South Carolina because if he gets to be president, South Carolina's interests will have a receptive audience due to our relationship," Graham said in a recent interview. "I want to help him do the hard things."
McCain recently made his first stop in the state since winning South Carolina's January primary, and Graham pumped his fists in a cheer at a news conference when McCain said he'll campaign again here later in the year. The next morning, over a grits, bacon and pancakes campaign breakfast, he talked about how he and McCain don't toe the Grand Old Party line on immigration, social security, the war in Iraq or how judges are confirmed.
"John has risked his political career at least four times in the last two years that I can remember and I've got the scars to prove it," Graham said. He's been McCain's wing man, noting he was in the room with McCain and President Bush when the president was convinced to add troops in Iraq while other Republicans "were running to the exit like the theater was on fire" and "coming up with one goofy idea after another" to get out of Iraq.
The Iraq surge came as the duo found a wave of opposition for their brokered deals with Democrats on an immigration law overhaul. At the state GOP convention a year ago, the crowd booed and shouted "No" at Graham's explanations of the bill, which would have provided a path to citizenship.
Graham, a lawyer and Air Force Reserve colonel who still works a room like a small restaurant owner, became the butt of criticism from conservatives. Rush Limbaugh called the immigration bill "Grahamnesty."
The issue has faded, but just barely. Opponent Buddy Witherspoon, who is challenging Graham in the June 10 primary, has seized on it in campaign ads, and he and others have questioned whether Graham is conservative enough to represent the state's Republicans.
"This is David and Goliath, no doubt," Witherspoon said of his race against Graham.
The analogy is fittingly used by Witherspoon, who characterizes himself as farther to the political right of either of South Carolina's GOP senators. He proudly proclaims he's a devout Christian who opposes abortion and gay marriage, and says he regrets the nation has moved away from its "one nation under God" roots.
But illegal immigration has become the 69-year-old Navy veteran's key target in an attempt to score points against the one-term incumbent. Graham, along with McCain, supported an immigration measure last year that would have provided an eventual path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. The proposal angered conservative Republicans even as it failed and Witherspoon is doing his best to stoke that ire.
In January, in the lead-up to the GOP presidential primary, Witherspoon ran a 30-second TV spot with images from the U.S.-Mexico border, including people stepping over fences and speaking in Spanish. In it, a man and woman say: "Muchas gracias, Lindsey Graham."
"Lindsey's too liberal for South Carolina," Witherspoon said during an interview at his home, echoing the slogan on his campaign signs.
Witherspoon said he's running for office out of concern for the future of his grandchildren and others. He said he wants to cut government spending. He's also not dissuaded by Graham's money advantage: Witherspoon had $258,000 in cash as of last quarter's filing, compared with Graham's $4.8 million. Even though a loan to himself accounted for 60 percent of the money he's raised, Witherspoon said he's optimistic.
Meanwhile, he criticizes Graham as being too willing to work with Democrats. As an example, he cites Graham's involvement in the "Gang of 14," a group of Republican and Democratic senators who brokered a deal to head off filibusters of federal judicial appointees.
"Now's not the time to go along to get along," Witherspoon said.
He also makes a jab at Graham as being "joined at the hip" with McCain during presidential campaigns. Witherspoon said he could not endorse a presidential candidate himself because of his position on the Republican National Committee, though he stepped down from that post to run for Senate.
Graham says he's focussed on his own campaigning and not on his opponent.
"I'm not worried about him," he said.
Meanwhile, he's spending some of his money on television ads that touch on his anti-abortion stance, military record and fight against taxes.
Meanwhile, Graham's independent streak and knack for having the background on issues of the day has made him a frequent TV news show guest. He recently said he's going to focus on his "record for delivering for my state, being outspoken, being a player in Washington. Being somebody who can get things done."
Graham always has been driven, say those who know him. His parents -- who ran a liquor store, pool hall and restaurant in Central -- died 15 months apart when he was in college at the University of South Carolina. He adopted younger sister Darline when she was 13.
"Even as a child I knew that he would probably be successful and go places. He always had that drive about him. He always had a plan and a goal," said Darline Graham, now 43.
Lindsey Graham said he credits his parents with teaching him the campaign style that propels him from handshake to handshake during political gatherings as he seeks a second term.
"When people walked in, they had to feel like they were at home -- especially in a small town, because you live off of repeat business," he said.
Anyone know what the polls are showing?
“Buddy Witherspoon vs Lindsey Graham”
In the FLY WEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD!
Let’s get rrrrrrrreeeaaaaaaaaaaady to rrrrrrrruummmmmmmble!
For Immediate Release
May 27, 2008
Greenville, SC Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Buddy Witherspoon defeated U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in a straw poll that was conducted at the Greenville County Republican Stump Rally over the weekend.
According to Greenville County Republican officials, Buddy Witherspoon clearly won this poll and that it wasnt even close. Though straw polls are not scientific, they are an indicator of who has momentum amongst those who are participating.
Buddy Witherspoon stated, I am very pleased to have the support of many Republican activists, not just here in Greenville, but across the entire state. Our campaign has been gaining lots of momentum, and we are in a very good position to win the Republican Primary on June 10th.
Dan Herren, Witherspoons Campaign Manager added, Its very disappointing that Senator Graham chose to spend his free time in Arizona over the weekend, instead of taking the opportunity to meet with South Carolinians face to face. Maybe if Senator Graham actually spent his free time in South Carolina, he would do better in the polls amongst the Republican activists and party faithful.
The South Carolina Republican Primary will be held June 10th 2008.
I’m going to donate to witherspoon. I’d pay money to see graham go down in defeat.
Godspeed Buddy Witherspoon.
Dump that POS Lindsey!!
"Republican by day, Democrat by night."
I’ll be in the voting booth next Tuesday just itching to vote against Mccain’s little buddy!
Witherspoon definitely has my vote, and will get some of my $ before November. Lindsey Graham does not represent me or most South Carolinians. We have long memories down here, and Lindsey will figure that out Tuesday night. Unfortunately i have to be on a plane to Tacoma, WA (Indian country for sure) Wednesday morning so i won’t get to revel in his defeat in the beautiful Palmetto state.
Post the link to his website so we may donate to the cause!
The tile of this article should have been “David and Gomorrah.”
I know I am going to vote for Buddy too.
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