COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The National Action Network (NAN) is calling on Sen. Lindsey Graham to apologize and retract his comments regarding African Americans and immigrants in South Carolina during a recent debate forum.
On Oct. 9, Graham was asked about the civil unrest across the nation, and in South Carolina, surrounding police reform and systemic racism.
Toward the end of his response he said, “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.”
Many on social media have condemned Graham’s comments as racist and for its implications that people of color in the Palmetto State will only be successful in elective offices if they are conservative.
The senator says his comments are being taken out of context.
His communications director gave WIS the following statement:
To hear Graham’s comments in their entirety, watch the video at the top of this story.
The Democratic challenger for Graham’s U.S. Senate seat, Jaime Harrison, took to Twitter saying, “Lindsey Graham finally said the quiet part out loud: he only cares about South Carolinians who belong to his political party. This isn’t about political parties. It’s not about left vs. right. This is about right vs. wrong.”
Leaders with NAN will deliver letters of objection and hold press conferences on Oct. 13 in front of each of Graham’s regional offices in the state beginning at 11 a.m.
Graham’s campaign provided the following transcript of his full answer:
"Do I believe South Carolina is a racist state? No. And let me tell you why. To young people out there of color, to young immigrants this is a great state. One thing I can say without any doubt; you can be an African-American and go to the Senate. You just have to share the values of our state. Tim Scott is in the Senate. He’s the only African-American Republican (Senator) in the country. Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants raised in South Carolina. She became our governor. In South Carolina, folks, it’s not about the color of your skin or where you came from. It’s about your ideas. The reason I’m going to win this race is because my ideas, my Conservative philosophy, my willingness to reach across the aisle fits our state. I’m aligned with Tim Scott and Nikki Haley.
"My opponent is going to lose not cause of race, but because he’s aligned with the most liberal people in the country. 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. So count me in for reforming the police, I voted for the first step act, that gave African-American males and Hispanic males who’ve been in prison under the Joe Biden 3-strikes-you’re-out bill. President Trump led the way, I’ve worked with Cory Booker. There are a lot of people getting out of jail who were sentenced to long-terms in jail for nonviolent offenses. And they can go back to their families they can get a job.
“Thirty-one-percent of our state is African-American. I’m asking to every African American out there. Look at my record. I’ve been supporting HBCUs and I’m glad President Trump has made it a permanent fixture now. We don’t have to beg every year for the money. 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.”