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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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

“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.

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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.

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

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(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Dan Grebler)


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One in five US Twitter users follows Trump: survey

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Nineteen percent of US Twitter users follow President Donald Trump on the social platform, and a majority of those people approve of his job performance, a survey showed Monday.

The Pew Research Center report suggests Trump's @realDonaldTrump account -- with more than 60 million followers worldwide -- has succeeded in developing an audience largely favorable to his comments, which often generate controversy.

The report is based on a survey of 2,388 US adults who use Twitter and gave Pew permission to review their personal public-facing accounts, between December 2018 and July 2019.

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Meghan McCain complains that Trump’s racist jabs make her job harder: ‘It’s humiliating for me to be on TV’

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Meghan McCain hammered her fellow Republicans for staying silent about President Donald Trump's latest racist attack -- and complained that his slurs made her job harder.

"The View" co-host condemned Trump's attack on four Democratic congresswomen that she has frequently criticized, and she was deeply disappointed to see Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defend the president.

"It's deeply xenophobic and racist on a lot of different levels," McCain said. "My sister was not born in this country, okay? My sister wasn't born here, she's as American in every way as I am and everybody else. She also has been subjected to many racist political campaigns, which by the way, Lindsey Graham, you were present for. I remember seeing you there when it happened, so seeing that on 'Fox & Friends' was particularly, particularly hurtful."

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Trump’s chief of staff is ‘building an empire for the right wing’ behind the scenes: report

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When Mick Mulvaney was representing South Carolina during his years in the U.S. House of Representatives, the far-right Republican had no interest in moderation: he was a member of the Tea Party and the House Freedom Caucus, and he was happy to talk to the John Birch Society. Mulvaney has since gone on to serve in the Trump administration, most recently as acting White House chief of staff — and an in-depth report by Seung Min Kim, Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner for the Washington Post delves into the ways in which Mulvaney, now 51, has favored a take-no-prisoners approach when it comes to pushing President Donald Trump’s agenda and doing everything he can to erase former President Barack Obama’s achievements.

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