SC Sen. Graham responds to Harrison’s request for pre-debate COVID test

Graham-Harrison Forum

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jaime Harrison called on Sen. Lindsey Graham Thursday to get tested ahead of Friday night’s debate in Spartanburg.

In a news release from his campaign, Harrison calls for Graham to “follow the example of Vice President Mike Pence, and follow his own precedent from the last debate, and take a COVID test.”

Harrison also went on to say that if Graham will not take a coronavirus test that he cannot “responsibly debate in person tomorrow night and allow politics to put my family, my campaign staff, Sen. Graham’s staff, and members of the media at unnecessary risk.”

Graham’s campaign responded Thursday night saying that, weeks ago, he “agreed to [the debate] rules and will continue to abide by them.”

In a statement, the campaign said Graham “took a COVID-19 test last week after a Judiciary Committee hearing.”

“Whether Mr. Harrison attends tomorrow’s debate is his decision, not mine. I will be there,” Graham said.

Read the full news release from the Harrison campaign in its entirety below:

“Today, Jaime Harrison, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, released the following statement ahead of Friday’s second South Carolina senatorial debate:

“We need to take the threat of this pandemic seriously, and the people of South Carolina understand that. With even the President of the United States personally affected, it’s time for every leader to put people before political campaigning. 

“All WSPA moderators and panelists and I have agreed to take a COVID test prior to debating. I have scheduled my test for tomorrow, and I am calling on Sen. Graham to do the same.

“Sen. Graham should follow the example of Vice President Mike Pence, and follow his own precedent from the last debate, and take a COVID test.

“Of course the upcoming debates can be held, and held safely. But if Sen. Graham will not take a coronavirus test, I cannot responsibly debate in person tomorrow night and allow politics to put my family, my campaign staff, Sen. Graham’s staff, and members of the media at unnecessary risk.”

Following reports that many members of the President’s inner circle are testing positive for COVID-19, it has also been reported that Sen. Graham attended a hearing with Sen. Mike Lee on October 1, and Sen. Lee and Sen. Thom Tillis have both tested  positive for coronavirus. Medical experts recommend waiting fourteen days after exposure to coronavirus, and on Friday it will be only eight days since Sen. Graham was exposed to his Senate colleagues. 

On Saturday, Harrison debated Graham at Allen University. The upcoming debates are in Spartanburg on October 9 with WSPA and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and Columbia in late October with SCETV and the Post & Courier.

Read the full news release from the Graham campaign in its entirety below:

Associate Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, Jaime Harrison, has made an 11th hour demand the night before a scheduled Senate debate. He is now requiring Senator Lindsey Graham, the debate’s moderator, and debate panelists to take a COVID-19 test, without any medical justification, before he takes the debate stage in Spartanburg tomorrow night. 

Harrison’s newest stipulation comes one day after he sat down for an hour-long interview at a Columbia bar with reporters and staff from The Post & Courier.

Neither the reporters nor Mr. Harrison were tested before the Post & Courier interview.  The results of this extended interview — one of the few Harrison has agreed to do during the campaign — were disastrous.  Find highlights here.

Debate rules, agreed to weeks ago, stipulate that participants must abide by CDC regulations and have their temperature taken before they enter the studio.  Senator Graham agreed to those rules and will continue to abide by them. 

Senator Graham took a COVID-19 test last week after a Judiciary Committee hearing.  The physician who oversaw the test and the Attending Physician of the U.S. Congress both counseled him that CDC guidelines did not require a quarantine or additional testing, so he was cleared to return to normal activities.  A statement provided by the Attending Physician of the U.S. Capitol can be found here.

Senator Graham said:

“Mr. Harrison is demanding special treatment. South Carolinians do not appreciate Harrison putting himself above others.  If Mr. Harrison is not able to interact with South Carolinians on the same terms they live their lives, he should not be their senator.

“Is any other South Carolinian demanding that every person they come in contact with be tested before they meet?  Do workers in South Carolina demand their coworkers and customers be tested before going to work?  Do restaurants demand their coworkers and customers be tested before being allowed to dine?  

“Also, why does Mr. Harrison now demand tomorrow’s media panelists get tested but didn’t care about the media panelists who interviewed him yesterday?  

“The only difference between then and now is Mr. Harrison faced hard questions, and his answers confirmed what we already knew:  Jaime Harrison is too liberal for South Carolina. 

“I listen to the medical experts and follow their advice.  

“I will continue to follow the guidance of my doctors, not my political opponent. 

“I have taken the coronavirus threat to our state and nation very seriously.  I have acted responsibly, seeking testing when required and following the advice of physicians.  Coronavirus was a serious problem at the first debate, and it was a serious problem yesterday when Mr. Harrison did an interview at a bar.  What has changed is not the seriousness of coronavirus — what has changed is the threat Mr. Harrison faces from scrutiny. 

“Whether Mr. Harrison attends tomorrow’s debate is his decision, not mine.  I will be there.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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