SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- The South Carolina Senate Forum was held at the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce in Spartanburg Friday evening.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison took the stage seperately rather than debating face-to-face after a Graham refused to submit to a COVID-19 test prior to the debate.
Questions surrounding Harrison’s demand that Graham get tested, and Graham’s refusal were big points of conversation, but questions about healthcare, police brutality and reform, and marijuana legalization showed stark contrasts between the two candidates.
Here are four key moments from the debate.
Harrison demands Graham ‘lead by example’
At the start of the debate, WSPA’s Gordon Dill asked Harrison why he demanded that Graham get a test for COVID-19 at the last minute.
Harrison said he made the request because several Republican leaders have tested positive for the virus, two of whom Senator Graham was around in the past week. He also made mention of the Rose Garden Ceremony at the White House that many of the Republican leaders who tested positive recently attended.
“We have to take this thing seriously,” Harrison said. “What we’re asking is for our senator to take this seriously.”
Harrison was unapologetic about the last-minute request, saying it was critical to ensure their safety. He went on to say that a note from Graham’s doctor was not enough and that the Senator should have submitted to the test.
Graham pledges to lead charge on Amy Coney Barrett confirmation
With strong words, Senator Lindsey Graham pledged that he would lead the charge on getting Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett confirmed.
In response to his own statement from 2018, saying that if a Supreme Court opening came in the last year of President Trump’s term Senate would wait for the election, Graham referred to his statements from 2019 and 2020, saying he would “see what the market bears.”
He says he is going to push to confirm Barrett and that if Democrats were in the Senate majority, they would be doing the same thing.
Graham said he’s given a fair shake to liberal judges and he voted for them, but feels his Democratic collegues are out to “destroy” Republican nominees. He says he hopes Democrats will treat Barrett with respect throughout the process.
Harrison says he does not believe in defunding the police
When asked about what legislation he would put in place to end police brutality, Harrison said he would want to have a database for law enforcement, noting those who have been fired for brutality, and establish a national standard for use of force.
Harrison said he does not support the idea of defunding the police, but rather, demilitarizing them. Defunding has been a popular idea among many supporters of Black Lives Matter.
Harrison said knows people involved in the Black Live Matter organization, but that he hasn’t formally met with anyone because he hasn’t been invited.
When asked about civil unrest in South Carolina Harrison said he wants to bring different groups together to discuss the issues and unite residents over their similarities.
Graham says he does not support legalization of marijuana
70 percent of Americans have admitted to using marijuana, but Sen. Graham said he is in the 30 percent who believes legalization is not a good idea.
Graham said he does believe there can be benefits and uses for medicinal marijuana, that the drug should not be used for recreational purposes.
“I am convinced of the medical purposes associated with marijuna and I’d be willing to make that exception,” the senator said.
He said it can be a dangerous drug, “particularly for young people,” citing his time as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge.