Taking back controlSen. Graham promises port dredging and action on Benghazi

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eileen Keithly/For the Times Lindsey Graham

Photos

A folksy and upbeat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham urged Georgetown County Republicans last week to mobilize behind his candidacy to win back control of the U.S. Senate, saying it was time to force changes in Obamacare, hold hearings on the 2012 attack in Benghazi and “retire Harry Reid.”

Graham, seeking a third term and facing six challengers in his primary election, spoke to a crowd of over 200 people at Nosh restaurant in Pawleys Island last Friday.

As the live beach music played, young and old gathered and hoped to speak personally to the candidate. An eager 13-year-old Hunter Lane paced side to side, waiting for his opportunity to speak to Graham.

“I’m excited and nervous,” Lane said. “I want to ask him about weapons of mass destruction for my eighth-grade language arts project.” Graham made his way to Lane and took his time, never rushing the future voter. “You know what keeps me up at night, Hunter?” asked Graham. “Terrorist organizations getting their hands on nuclear weapons from Iran and North Korea.”

Randy Hollister, chairman of the Georgetown GOP, fueled the enthusiasm of the crowd as he exhorted them with a rally cry, “This is our time to take back the U.S. Senate.”

Carol Faulk of Pawleys Island and Peggy Nagy of Georgetown were both excited to see Graham.

“We worked on his campaign seven years ago,” Faulk said. “We are so excited that he has come back to Georgetown County,” Nagy said.

Graham was flanked at the campaign appearance by Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee with Graham.

Ayotte, a rising star in the Republican Party, encouraged the crowd to “stand together to re-elect Lindsey Graham, and we will get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi.”

The crowd immediately cheered Graham when he chastised Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Everything the House sends to the Senate, Harry Reid kills,” he said.

Graham entertained and captivated the crowd with his stories of family and humorous asides, “Everything I know about politics I learned in the pool room,” said Graham, referring to growing up around his family’s restaurant, liquor store and pool room in Center.

Graham pulled his grass-roots supporters in by slowing down his speech and lowering his volume to ask the crowd a very serious question, “You know what I hate about Barak Obama?” Graham asked as the crowd stayed silent, “Instead of bringing us together, he’s driven us apart.”

After rousing cheers from the audience, Graham continued, “Obamacare is about European socialism coming to America, and millions of Americans are going to lose work because of it.”

Graham said little about his controversial support of bipartisan Senate immigration reform legislation that provides undocumented residents with a pathway to achieve citizenship.

“That’s a hard problem to solve,” he told the crowd. “Yelling about it ain’t gonna fix it.”

Graham also downplayed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s failure to endorse his candidacy in the contested Republican primary. When asked for a response to Scott’s unwillingness to endorse him, Graham said, “Look, Tim Scott is a great guy. He’s young, and he is still learning how to run his own campaign, and that is what he should be focusing on, not me.”

Before leaving the podium, Graham made one major campaign promise: “I can get the ports of Georgetown and Charleston deepened, and if we don’t, we will destroy our state’s economy.”

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