Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who recently began floating the idea of running for the presidency, was caught on tape joking about how well white men would do if he won, CNN reported.
“I’ve tried to help you with your tax status,” Graham can be heard saying. “I’m sorry the government’s so f—ed up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.”
He can also be heard asking, “We got any Presbyterians here? We got any Baptists? They’re the ones that drink and don’t admit it.”
CNN said it obtained the audio from unidentified Democrats in South Carolina, who had received it from a person using an anonymous email address. The person who leaked the tape said Graham made the remarks at an “all-male club.”
Graham confirmed making the jokes during a meeting of a charitable group, the Hibernian Society of Charleston.
He said political figures there are encouraged “to be earthy, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of them. Then you say something serious and sit down. And if you talk over 20 minutes, they throw something at you.”
Graham said his joke about “male-only clubs” was a jab at the group’s membership policy, and his remark about Baptists is in line with regular jokes he makes before discussing religious freedom more seriously.
“I hope this doesn’t reflect poorly on the club,” Graham told CNN. “They are great guys.”
Earlier this month, Graham told the conservative Weekly Standard that he was considering running for the GOP’s presidential nomination.
“If I get through my general election, if nobody steps up in the presidential mix, if nobody’s out there talking — me and [Sen. John] McCain (R-AZ) have been talking,” Graham said. “I may just jump in to get to make these arguments.”
Shortly afterwards, Graham backed away from the remark in an interview with CNN.
“I know what it’s like to run for president. I’m running for Senate,” he said. “I know what it takes to put an organization together, to put the money together. I am nowhere near there. I’m all-in running for the Senate.”
Listen to Graham’s remarks, as posted by CNN, below.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Order is not affiliated with other Hibernian groups.