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Senator Lindsey Graham eclipses crowded field in SC Republican primary

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By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina looks poised to be the latest member of the Republican establishment to fend off a primary challenge from the Tea Party, overcoming criticism from some members of his party that he is not conservative enough.

Graham’s fundraising and poll numbers far outpace his six opponents’ in Tuesday’s primary election. Analysts say the state’s senior senator will likely muster enough votes to win the nomination outright, as incumbents in Texas and Kentucky have.

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Gunning to oust him are a small-business owner, a minister, two lawyers, a libertarian state senator who gave away a 9mm handgun at a campaign event and a business owner who was the first female graduate of the Citadel military college.

But Graham, dogged for his support of immigration reform and willingness to work with Democrats, is a shrewd political veteran who had long planned for an expensive primary battle, supporters say. His $9.4 million war chest as of late May was more than three times all his challengers’ money combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That has helped the senator, an outspoken foreign policy hawk seeking his third six-year term, distance himself from the Tea Party candidates battling for control of the Republican party in conservative South Carolina and other states.

“He’s really the only one able to spend and get his name out there statewide,” said Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston. “It’s an uphill battle for the challengers.”

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The conservative Tea Party has suffered a string of high-profile primary losses this year but has a chance to unseat Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi in a Republican primary race headed for a June 24 run-off.

In South Carolina, a Clemson University poll released this week showed Graham near the 50 percent plus one vote he needs to avoid a run-off.

He drew support from 49 percent of frequent Republican primary voters, far more than the single-digit support given to his competitors. The poll found 35 percent of voters were undecided, with a 6 percent margin of error.

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“The collective discontent with Lindsey Graham … has not coalesced around any one candidate,” Clemson political scientist Dave Woodard said in a webcast about the poll.

The winner of the Republican contest is expected to take the seat in November. South Carolina has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1998.

In his final primary ads released on Thursday, Graham, 58, touted his record of opposing Obamacare, probing the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, and advocating for U.S. troops.

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“My job is to ask tough questions, find answers and be that conservative leader you can count on to get things done,” he said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Dan Grebler)

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Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Mulvaney handed investigators the ‘smoking gun’ on ‘one of the most significant days of the decade’: Morning Joe

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had offered "smoking gun" evidence in a stunning confession to the crime at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The "Morning Joe" host said Mulvaney had made a stunning "confession," but he said the president had on the same day endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish allies he had betrayed to Turkey.

"There's so much to talk about, we joke for a few minutes at the top of the show, Mika likes do that, me, I like to get straight into the news," said Scarborough, who frequently annoys his wife and co-host by bantering about sports at the start of the show. "But there's so much going on that if somebody just woke up this morning they might not think that yesterday was not one of the most significant news days in, during the trump presidency, and I may even argue one of the most significant news days over perhaps the last decade, just in terms of volume."

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Vote-splitting fears raised in final days of Canada election

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In the dying days of what Justin Trudeau described as one of the "nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history -- with plenty of mudslinging, attack ads and misinformation -- he played up fears on Thursday of vote-splitting handing victory to his rival Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives.

Policy announcements gave way to calls to vote strategically to keep Trudeau's Liberals in power and prevent a rollback of his progressive policies by the Tories.

Pollsters predict a minority government -- either Liberal or Conservative -- resulting from the October 21 ballot.

Attack ads accused Liberals of seeking to legalize hard drugs and the Tories of allowing assault rifles on Canadian streets -- claims that are flat out wrong or exaggerated, respectively.

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Japan emperor to proclaim enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony

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Japan's new Emperor Naruhito will formally proclaim his ascension to the throne next week in a ritual-bound ceremony, but the after-effects of deadly typhoon will cast a shadow over proceedings.

Naruhito officially assumed his duties as emperor on May 1, a day after his father became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.

But the transition will not be complete until his new role is officially proclaimed on Tuesday, in a series of events expected to be attended by foreign dignitaries from nearly 200 countries.

The event will come just over a week after Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, killing nearly 80 people and leaving a trail of destruction.

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