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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.”

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.

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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)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump snaps at Jim Acosta for reminding him of coronavirus death toll: ‘Fake news CNN’

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President Donald Trump on Monday snapped at CNN's Jim Acosta when he reminded the president that the novel coronavirus so far has killed 155,000 Americans.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, the president boasted that the United States had done an "amazing" job at handling the COVID-19 pandemic, at which point Acosta interrupted him and tried to ask him about the 155,000 people who have died from the disease in just five months.

"The U.S. has so many deaths," Acosta said.

"Hold it!" Trump replied.

"So many countries around the world..."

"Fake news CNN!" he said. "Hold it. We have done a great job in this country. We haven't been given enough -- not me, Vice President Pence, the task force -- have not been given the kind of credit."

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COVID-19 obituary blames Republicans for Texas man’s untimely end: ‘They blame his death on Trump’

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One family in Texas recently used their loved one’s obituary to criticize President Donald Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for allowing “needless” COVID-19 deaths.

David W. Nagy died alone in a hospital bed, leaving behind his "inconsolable wife."

"He suffered greatly from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus and the separation from his much loved family who were not allowed at his bedside," the obituary says.

"Family members believe David's death was needless," the obituary continues. "They blame his death and the deaths of all of the other innocent people, on Trump, Abbott and all the other politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were more concerned with their popularity and votes than lives."

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Pennsylvania teen issues violent threat to defend friend from racism accusation: ‘I can show you what a real hate crime is’

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A Pennsylvania man was charged with making terroristic threats after a Black teenager accused his friend of being racist.

A friend of Andrew Smith, of Chalfont, attacked a Central Bucks West High School student by name and used racial slurs, reported the Bucks County Courier Times.

Smith's friend, who has not been charged, lashed out at the teen for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and said her views “make me wanna commit a black hate crime,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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