At a press conference held Thursday to announce their solidarity in opposing Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the four Republican candidates running against the incumbent senator referred to Graham as “ambiguously gay,” according to The State.
The news conference, held to announce a pledge between the challengers to support whomever ended up in a runoff with Graham, took an awkward turn when candidate Dave Feliciano stepped to the podium and addressed the issue of Graham’s sexuality.
“It’s about time that South Carolina (says), ‘Hey, we’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina, ” Feliciano said. “We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November’.”
Questions about Graham’s sexuality have arisen previously but the senator has dismissed them.
Before speaking, Feliciano, a former police officer from Spartanburg with no previous political experience, signed a pledge with state Sen. Lee Bright, businessman Richard Cash, and attorney Bill Connor promising to endorse whichever candidate advanced to face Graham.
The pledge read: “We, the undersigned genuine conservative Republicans, agree to endorse whichever one of our fellow signers advances to the run-off election against incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham following the South Carolina Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate on the 10th of June 2014.”
After the event, attorney Connor disavowed Feliciano’s comments as a personal attack and said that each candidate’s comments were their own.
Stating that he believes in free speech, Cash added, “but I also believe in being civil and respectful. Mr. Feliciano’s comments were inappropriate and I disavow any association with them.”
However, both Cash and Connor said they still would honor the agreement, which they signed.
There are six GOP candidates who have announced primary challenges to Graham.
The other two, Columbia pastor Det Bowers and PR executive Nancy Mace, did not attend the news conference.