Sen. Lindsey Graham Steers Clear of Criticizing Murkowski Write-In Campaign; Says He Supports Miller

September 21, 2010 - 8:55 PM
'How can I say it's not honorable?' South Carolina Republican Asks.

Graham Stands By Murkowski’s Write-In Senate Campaign

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yesterday steered clear of criticizing his colleague Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for mounting a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate after losing the Republican Senate primary to Tea Party-backed Joe Miller, but said he supports Miller in the general election.

‘How can I say it’s not honorable?” the senior senator from South Carolina told CNSNews.com. “The only person who ever won as a write-in candidate was (the late Sen.) Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).”

Many states have “Sore Loser Laws” in place or set filing deadlines to bar those who lose primary races from mounting further efforts to seek that office in the general election. CNSNews.com asked Graham: “Speaking of the election, your colleague, (Sen.) Lisa Murkowski recently lost a GOP primary and then announced that she would run as a write-in candidate for that same seat against Joe Miller. Do you think that’s an honorable thing for her to do for the party, for her state and for the nation?”

“Well, I think, one, I think Lisa was a good senator. I supported her efforts in the primary; our nominee, Mr. Miller, I’ll support. She’s doing what’s available to her under Alaskan law,” Graham said.

The South Carolina Republican made his comments at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he talked on national security issues. But Graham, who has been at odds with the Tea Party movement and earlier this year predicted it would “die out." When asked whether he would ever consider running as a write-in himself after losing a primary, Graham made a joke.

"Would you ever consider doing such a thing if you were to lose a GOP Primary?" CNSNews.com asked.

"Running as a write-in in Alaska?" said Graham.

"A write-in or a third party?" asked CNSNews.com.

"No. No." said Graham.

"In South Carolina?" asked CNSNews.com.

“I am here to talk about next year in our nation, not about me,” Graham said. “This ain’t about me in 2014. This is about where we’re going in the next 18 months as a nation. But I’m a proud Republican. I have no desire to leave this party. I’d like to change it. I’d like to make it more conservative on the fiscal side, but I’d also like it to be a party like Ronald Reagan, that had a coherent vision. I appreciate Ron Paul, but me and him are on different planets when it comes to national security. I’d like to be able to articulate the Republican Party s coherent vision for hope: Wou win the War on Terror, how you have alliances that are effective. That’s my role between now and 2014, I hope.”

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Full Transcript of Comments to CNSNews.com by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

CNSNews.com: “Speaking of the election, your colleague, (Sen.) Lisa Murkowski recently lost a GOP primary and then announced that she would run as a write-in candidate for that same seat against Joe Miller. Do you think that’s an honorable thing for her to do for the party, for her state and for the nation?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): Well, I think, one, I think Lisa was a good senator. I supported her efforts in the primary; our nominee, Mr. Miller, I’ll support. She’s doing what’s available to her under Alaskan law. As long as you feel good about it yourself there’s nothing--how can I say it’s not honorable? The only person who ever won as a write in candidate was (the late Sen.) Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).

CNSNews.com: Would you ever consider doing such a thing if you were to lose a GOP Primary?

 

Sen. Graham: Running as a write-in in Alaska?

 

CNSNews: A write-in or a third party?

 

Sen. Graham: No. No.

 

CNSNews.com: In South Carolina?

Sen. Graham: I am here to talk about next year in our nation, not about me. This ain’t about me in 2014. This is about where we’re going in the next 18 months as a nation. But I’m a proud Republican, I have no desire to leave this party. I’d like to change it. I’d like to make it more conservative on the fiscal side, but I’d also like it to be party like Ronald Reagan, that had a coherent vision. I appreciate Ron Paul, but me and him are on different planets when it comes to national security. I’d like to be able to articulate the Republican Party's coherent vision for hope: You win the War on Terror, how you have alliances that are effective. That’s my role between now and 2014, I hope.

Unidentified Reporter: Do you agree with the analysis of about 100 people last week from the far right to the far left that the Republican Party right now is involved in a civil war; it’s involved intra-party fratricide? Do you agree with that? There was nobody who didn’t seem to hold that view last week.

Sen. Graham: My view is that what happened to (Sen.) Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), happens--that Joe Lieberman sided with President Bush on a very big topic called Iraq and MoveOn.org didn’t like his position and he lost his primary and he won as an independent. We’ve got some people in our party that are trying to get us back to our fiscal roots and we’re having, obviously, some spirited contests. I’m a coalition guy. I believe there needs to be a place in the Republican Party for the TEA Party--that they bring a lot of energy. But there has to be a coalition. If you’re a social moderate and a fiscal conservative, you’re welcome in my party. One thing that should unite most of us is a strong, firm view of national security. The party of Ronald Reagan--I like that party--80 percent agreement made you someone’s friend. The question I have is: When do you become the enemy? Is it 75 percent? Is it 51 percent? I believe 80 percent agreement makes you my friend and ally and 51 percent voting with me makes you a better deal than someone who never votes with me. So I’m a coalition guy. And that’s where I think we need to go.”