Challenger demands Graham get COVID-19 test before S.C. Senate debate

Challenger demands Graham get COVID-19 test before S.C. Senate debate
Lindsey Graham Jaime Harrison debate

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison are set to meet for their second debate Friday, although campaign clashes over COVID-19 are stirring doubts of whether the matchup will go on at all.

Harrison threatened to tank the debate, scheduled for 7 p.m. in Spartanburg, over concerns related to Graham’s exposure to other GOP senators who have recently tested positive for COVID-19, demanding that Graham get tested again.

On Thursday, Harrison asked Graham to take a COVID test ahead of the debate.

“We need to take the threat of this pandemic seriously, and the people of South Carolina understand that. With even the President of the United States personally affected, it’s time for every leader to put people before political campaigning," Harrison said.

Graham campaign officials pointed out that Harrison had not demanded testing before sitting down with reporters from The Post and Courier newspaper for an event Wednesday and that Graham would attend the debate regardless.

Rather than saying he will take a coronavirus test, Graham said he will “take medical direction from actual physicians, not my political opponent.”

“Whether Mr. Harrison attends tomorrow’s debate is his decision, not mine. I will be there. 7pm in Spartanburg,” Graham said on Twitter.

Harrison responded to Graham’s refusal to test a coronavirus test.

“Why won’t Lindsey Graham take a COVID test? It would make it safer for the dozens of hard-working people who are putting this event together for the good of the voters. It would give peace of mind to those who have come in contact with Senator Graham,” Harrison said. “This isn’t about anyone’s campaign, it’s about keeping people safe – and if Senator Graham is unwilling to do that, he needs to explain why.”

Both candidates tested negative before the first debate.

A third debate is scheduled for later this month.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.