Lindsey Graham in debate forum: Black people can go anywhere in SC politics, if they're 'not liberal'
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, facing a competitive re-election campaign, said Friday that black Americans "can go anywhere in this state" if they are conservative.
During a debate forum with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, Graham was asked about the unrest across the country and in South Carolina over police reform and systemic racism. He implied that blacks will only be successful in the national election office if they are conservative.
"I care about everyone," said Graham. "If you're a young African American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state. You just have to be conservative, not liberal."
Graham is in a dead heat when voting with Harrison, who is black.
The South Carolina Senator pointed to Senator Tim Scott - the other US Senator in the state and sole Senator for black Republicans - and former Governor Nikki Haley as black people who succeeded because they shared the "values" of the state.
More: The debate between Graham and Harrison was cut short after Graham refused to take a COVID-19 test
"But one thing I can say without a doubt: you can be African American and go to the Senate. You just have to share the values of our state," said Graham. "Folks, it's not about the color of your skin or where you're from, it's about your ideas."
Graham, who said he supported police reform but did not believe the police were "systemically racist," continued to criticize Harrison. He said his opponent would lose "not because of race but because he is allied with the most liberal people in the country".
Harrison was also asked about riot and police brutality during his part of the forum. He noted that he supports a national register that reveals "bad cops", has a national standard of violence, and demilitarizes the police.
"There are some bad apples in the system that need to be eradicated. We need to bring some accountability to the system," he said.
The debate, which would have been the second between the two candidates, was canceled after Graham refused to take a COVID-19 test. Instead, the two were asked separate questions by WSPA-TV in the Spartanburg studios. Harrison was asked questions in the first half of the hour-long forum, while Graham answered questions in the last half.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Graham: Black politicians can go anywhere in SC if they're conservative
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