Politics

Lindsey Graham says he’s ‘getting killed’ in battle to raise campaign cash

An angry Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) complained that he’s “getting killed” financially in his reelection bid, complaining about money his challenger is raising from people who “hate my guts.”

Graham claimed in an interview with Fox News that Democrat  Jaime Harrison “will raise” $100 million for the campaign to topple him on Nov. 3., which he said will set a state record.

The three-term incumbent likely was exaggerating hyperbole. But Harrison reportedly raised about $9 million in the 72 hours after the death late last week of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in his comments on Fox, Graham put the figure at $6 million).

18 PHOTOSLindsey Graham through the yearsSee GalleryLindsey Graham through the yearsU.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the media before voting on a bill allowing a rise in the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington August 2, 2011. Congress buried the specter of a U.S. debt default by finally passing a deficit-cutting package on Tuesday, but uncertainties lingered over a possible painful downgrade of the top-notch American credit rating.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts(UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., listens at a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/New York Times, Pool via AP)Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, poses for photos with supporters at an event with President Donald Trump discussing environmental policies at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., listens during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on the State Department’s 2021 budget on Capitol Hill Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., walks past reporters as he arrives for the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Senators Lindsey Graham, right, addresses the media as Hillary Clinton looks on at the Convention Centre in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005. Hillary Clinton is part of a United States Congressional delegation that includes Senators John McCain, Senator Russell Feingold, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Iraq on Saturday and met with the country’s interim government leaders. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shouts while questioning Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Win McNamee/Pool via REUTERSTPX IMAGES OF THE DAYWilliam Barr, President Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, is welcomed to testify at his confirmation hearing by new Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) holds a copy of an intelligence report on the Steele dossier as he delivers an opening statement prior to hearing testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing “Examining the Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYU.S. Republican presidentialcandidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ), left, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), right, make their way across the flight line after landing on a CV-22 Osprey at Sather Air Base in Baghdad, March 16, 2008. Picture taken March 16, 2008. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/Handout(IRAQ).NO COMMERCIAL SALES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.President-elect Barack Obama listens as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L) speaks during a meeting with Vice President-elect Senator Joe Biden at the presidential transition office in Washington January 14, 2009. Biden is recently back from a tour of U.S. battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES)** FOR USE AS DESIRED ** Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pose on the North Lawn of the White House after they were both promoted to the rank of colonel by President Bush during a ceremony earlier in the Oval Office Thursday, April 29, 2004, in Washington. Sen. Graham, who is an Air Force reservist, and Rep. Buyer, who is an Army reservist, were both exempt from serving in Iraq because they are congressmen, but plan to do their active duty on the home front. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) talks to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R) at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder(UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (L) confers with Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) (C) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a walk-through for the final evening at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford,left, talks with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as they wait to testify before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission during a regional hearing in Charlotte, N.C. on Tuesday,June 28, 2005. Commissioners overseeing the Pentagon’s base closing process were urged Tuesday to overturn recommendations to give North Carolina’s Pope Air Force Base to the Army and to move key naval offices out of Charleston, S.C.(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)House Manager Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. gestures during the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton Saturday, Feb. 6, 1999. Graham was summarizing the differences between the House Managers presentation of witnesses and that of the defense.(AP Photo/APTN)U.S. President George W. Bush makes an impromptu visit to the Sticky Fingers restaurant and bar in Charleston, South Carolina, February 5, 2004 alongside the state’s Republican senator Lindsey Graham (C). Bush flew to Charleston to make remarks on homeland security at Union Pier terminal. REUTERS/Jason ReedJIRU.S. Senator Charles Schumer (R) speaks as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham sits next to him at a news conference in Shanghai March 24, 2006. China wants the United States to relax restrictions on its high-tech exports and ease access to visas for Chinese citizens, the two visiting U.S. Senators told reporters on Friday. REUTERS/Aly SongUp Next

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Ginsburg’s death has heightened the stakes in the already hugely consequential election. And Graham, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is in the middle of the controversy sparked by the Republican push to confirm a Ginsburg replacement before the next president takes office after he and other GOP leaders thwarted then-President Barack Obama from filling a high court vacancy in 2016 because the White House was up for grabs that year.

The last official campaign finance reports for the South Carolina race showed Graham with an edge. He had raised $29 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings in late June, with Harrison had taken in raised $28 million. As of the end of that month, reported $15 million in cash reserves, compared with Harrison’s $10.2 million. 

In his Thursday comment, Graham said, “I’m being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”

In predicting Harrison would end up with $100 million in contributions, he said, “The most money ever spent in the history of the state on a Senate race in this state was by me in 2014, when I spent $13 million.”

Graham had floated his short-of-cash lament earlier this week on Fox, pleading for donations. His complaint on Thursday sent “Lindsey Is Losing” trending on Twitter.

Polls show that Graham finds himself in a surprising fight for his political life in a solidly red state that President Donald Trump won by 14 percentage points in 2016. Political handicappers still favor Graham to win ― 1198 was the last time a Democrat won a Senate seat in South Carolina ― but a Harrison victory would deal a major blow to the GOP hopes of maintaining its Senate majority.

Graham long had been known as a staunch ally and close friend of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had a famously contentious relationship with Trump. And Graham, during his short-lived run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, had regularly berated Trump, calling him a “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office.”

But even before McCain’s death in August 2018, Graham had transformed into a Trump loyalist, becoming for many the embodiment of the willingness of Republican lawmakers to kowtow to the president, regardless of his transgressions.

Graham is being particularly pummeled now for his hypocritical reversal on the move to fill a Supreme Court vacancy when a presidential election looms.

He also recently saw a political barb he directed at Harrison backfire. He mocked the Democrat for not releasing his tax returns ― only to have Harrison quickly do so. More broadly, Graham opened himself to ridicule on the tax issue, given Trump’s steadfast refusal to follow tradition and release his returns.

Twitter critics on Thursday celebrated Graham’s pain, with a number vowing to donate — again — to Harrison.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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