Graham's Flip-Flop May Help Save His Seat

Rival calls him a hypocrite over court vote, but move could win over conservative SC voters
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2020 8:59 AM CDT
Graham to Democrats: 'You Would Do the Same'
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.   (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

It's looking more likely by the day that Mitch McConnell will have enough Republican votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before the election. And one of the senators falling in line, Lindsey Graham, remains unapologetic about changing his mind on holding such a vote. While his critics are making a stink about that, one political forecaster thinks the shift could help Graham in his close re-election race in South Carolina. Coverage:

  • Doubling down: “I am certain if the shoe were on the other foot, you would do the same," Graham wrote in a letter to Democrats on the Senate judiciary panel, explaining his change of heart.
  • The pushback: Graham is in a tight race with Democrat Jaime Harrison, who hopes to capitalize. As has been well publicized by now, Graham twice publicly declared (in 2016 and 2018) that if a court vacancy arose in the final year of Trump's first term, Republicans would hold off on a vote until after the election. “My grandpa always said that a man is only as good as his word,” Harrison tweeted. "Senator Graham, you have proven your word is worthless.”

  • New ad: The Lincoln Project, a conservative anti-Trump group, is out with a new ad asking voters to hold Graham "accountable." It includes video of Graham's 2018 promise not to hold an election-year confirmation vote, even after being reminded he was on the record. It also includes his memorable 2016 statement to "use my words against me."
  • His rationale: Graham says things have changed. He cites the brutal confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh and Democrats' decision to change filibuster rules to push through nominees. But as the New York Times points out, Graham's 2018 promise came after both of those developments. In his letter to Democrats, Graham also cites a different rationale: "Unlike in 2016, President Trump is currently standing for re-election: The people will have a say in his choices.”
  • A benefit? When all is said and done, the controversy might actually help Graham, according to a post at the respected Sabato's Crystal Ball site. Larry Sabato's current rating has South Carolina in the "leans Republican" category, but that could now improve. Yes, Graham's foes can paint him as a hypocrite, which could hurt him with moderate voters. But his vote for a nominee will help him on the right, which "ultimately may be more important in a state like South Carolina."
(More Lindsey Graham stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.