When mentioning Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to some conservatives, the first word you might hear is “Grahamnesty” — a term referencing his support for comprehensive immigration reform forged with late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).
He opposed ObamaCare, has an “A”-rating from the National Rifle Association, and has a lifetime rating of nearly 89 percent from the American Conservative Union. He’s backed away from past support for climate-change legislation. He even posed with his Chick-fil-A nuggets on the August appreciation day.
Even though Graham is readily labeled conservative by liberals, there’s been a chorus on the right wanting him out for not being conservative enough.
There’s a “Conservatives Against Lindsey Graham” Facebook group with more than 4,600 likes. In 2008, conservative Bob Conley went from being a member of the Horry County Republican Committee to jumping on the Democratic ticket just to run against Graham. Others have badgered the senator about longtime rumors regarding his sexuality, like William Gheen, head of the anti-illegal-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, calling on Graham to “come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality” at a 2012 Tea Party rally in South Carolina.
The Club for Growth has confirmed that Graham is in its crosshairs for 2014, citing in part his conference call with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) last month to show bipartisan support for continuing aid to Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been trying to cut off assistance. “If you’re looking to the horizon of 2014,” said Chris Chocola, president of the group, at a September event, “the sun may rise over South Carolina.”
But for an issue currently so dear to grass-roots activists on the right — exposing the truth about the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — Graham has been a top champion of conservatives in holding the administration’s feet to the fire.
And it’s not the first time.
He’s been a leading voice against the White House in its leaks of classified intelligence. He’s crusading against devastating sequestration defense cuts that the Democrats are using as leverage to try to force tax hikes on upper-income brackets, and has been urging defense contractors to follow the WARN Act on sequestration layoff notices despite administration advice otherwise. He’s trying to get the Department of Defense to change the characterization of the Fort Hood shooting from “workplace violence” to terrorism. He’s been a leading hawk in the Senate against Iran’s nuclear program, advocating pre-emptive strikes against nuclear installations to “neuter” the mullahs in Tehran. He’s been trying to beat back National Labor Relations Board overreach.
Establishing a necessary paper trail of requests for information about the attack that are naturally going unheeded, Graham has demanded information about Benghazi from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama himself.
“We destroyed a small forest trying to ask not political ‘gotcha’ questions, but basic questions: What did the president know, when did know it, and what did he do about it?” the senator said on Fox yesterday.
On Wednesday, Graham warned Tunisian authorities that the relationship with the U.S. could be at risk if they didn’t allow U.S. access to Ali Ani al Harzi, a suspect being held in the Sept. 11 consulate attack.