Lindsey Graham clashes with audience member at South Carolina presidential forum over Ukraine
Lindsey Graham snapped at an audience member while claiming those who support family values should also back the U.S. sending billions of aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.
A man in the audience at the Palmetto Family Matters Conservative Forum in Charleston, South Carolina told Senator Graham that he is ‘not a real conservative’ and accused him of being a ‘warmonger’ during two separate outbursts.
The combative senator refused to let the attendee at the early presidential forum in his home state overshadow his wide-ranging discussion where he defended supporting Ukraine despite other Republicans calling for the ‘blank check’ to be rescinded.
‘That was one guy,’ Graham told DailyMail.com after his remarks, clearly unbothered by the clash.
‘I think the guy’s a nut,’ he added. ‘I thought most people agreed with what I said.’
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told an audience member to ‘shut up’ after clashing over his unwavering support for Ukraine during a conservative presidential forum in South Carolina on Saturday
Graham was prompted by the MC and moderator at the forum to speak on the hot topic of the GOP’s wavering support for sending financial and arms assistance to Ukraine.
‘Do you believe in family values? How would you like that to happen to your family?’ he added to the crowd of a few hundred gathered in the Charleston Area Convention Center.
‘It is!’ an audience member yelled toward the stage where Graham was seated.
‘Just shut up. Get out of here!’ Graham said back, clearly frustrated following a few outbursts from the same individual.
‘If you want to speak, go run and get elected. So here’s the deal, if Putin –’ he continued, before being cut off again.
‘You’re not a real conservative!’ the obstinate audience member shouted.
‘I am really conservative. If you believe in family, stand up for families everywhere, right? Don’t you think God made us all in his image. If Putin gets away with this, there goes Taiwan.’
‘What did Putin get accused of yesterday? The international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for the President of Russia for kidnapping children in Ukraine and sending them to Russia,’ the senator said.
Graham said during at the forum on Saturday to a combative attendee: ‘Get out of here! If you want to speak, go run and get elected’
Graham said that supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia is ‘stand[ing] up for families everywhere’. Pictured: Apartments pictured March 18, 2023 in Donestsk, Ukraine are crumbled to the ground in Russian’s year-long invasion of the Eastern European country
Graham is the only non-first term senator who so far has backed former President Donald Trump’s third bid for the White House.
He stood beside Trump during his visit to the state’s capital city of Columbia earlier this year in his first major public campaign swing through the early primary contest states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Trump did not attend the forum on Saturday despite being invited.
When Graham was announced to the stage on Saturday, the attendee who obviously has a bone-to-pick with the senator yelled out: ‘You’re a warmonger.’
‘Warmonger? You’re at the wrong meeting,’ Graham chuckled, but quickly moved on.
Graham was just the second speaker on Saturday – following remarks from Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana.
Following the senator’s remarks were several other discussions and speeches, including from former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is considering a run for the White House.
The event is wrapping with remarks from already-announced presidential candidates Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump-era Ambassador to the United Nations; and biotech multimillionaire Vivek Ramaswamy.
The issue of Ukraine has been front of mind for many Republican politicians, lawmakers and voters after several rank-and-file members of Congress, as well as leaders like Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have said they are tired of writing a ‘blank check’ to Ukraine following the latest aid package from President Joe Biden.
Ukraine invited Ron DeSantis to visit after the Florida governor, who could join the 2024 race soon, called the war with Russia a ‘territorial dispute’ – amid growing GOP sentiment that the U.S. should not be sending money and arms to Kyiv
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not announced a 2024 bid but is widely considering a frontrunner already, dismissed the war as a ‘territorial dispute’ during an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week.
He said that the U.S. should focus-in on domestic issues and stop getting involved with international disputes.
Graham, however, warns that allowing Ukraine to be taken over by Russia would send a sign that the U.S. is weak and threaten the autonomy of other nations – like Taiwan.
He also said that if Trump were still president, Russia would have avoided invading Ukraine.
‘I believe if he were president, President Putin wouldn’t do this,’ he told DailyMail.com after his remarks in South Carolina on Saturday.
‘I told the president, I said, listen, it’s happened now and you need to be strong and clear that you can’t let Putin get away with this because there goes Taiwan,’ he continued. ‘And the Iranians are knocking on the door and if they ever get close to a nuclear weapon our friends in Israel will [be in danger].’