Republican South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who was formally censured by members of his own party earlier this week for playing nice with Democrats on climate change and other legislation, has spoken out in his own defense, according to Capitol Hill's newspaper .
The Charleston, South Carolina reported that the Charleston County Republican Party voted on Monday to censure Graham for not upholding the Republican platform. The group cited his cooperation with Democratic senator John Kerry on the proposed cap-and-trade bill and his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Obama's $700 billion bailout plan.
"U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham -- in the name of bipartisanship -- continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism," the resolution reportedly reads.
"There have been a lot of things over the years that people have been dissatisfied with the senator for doing but I think the cap-and-trade issue is the straw that broke the camel's back," Lin Bennett, the county GOP chairwoman, said according to the . "We have a state platform that if you want to run as a Republican in our state part of that platform includes ideals and goals we would like to see and one of them is smaller, and less government intrusion into people's lives."
Graham's office has now responded to the rebuke, Roll Call reports. Kevin Bishop, a spokesperson for the senator, highlighted the importance of bipartisan legislation and pointed out Graham's consistently conservative voting record.
"Senator Graham has a lifetime conservative voting record of 90 percent and last year was rated the 15th most conservative Senator by National Journal," Bishop said. "Like former President Reagan, he strongly believes elected officials need to find common ground and work together to solve difficult problems like making our nation energy independent and protecting our environment. Working to solve problems and being conservative are not mutually exclusive… Senator Graham will continue to pursue the same common-sense conservative agenda in his second term in the U.S. Senate as he did in his first."
Katon Dawson, former South Carolina GOP chair and Republican National Committee chairman candidate, has also spoken out in the Huffington Post defending Graham.
"What has the base so upset was that any time you partner up with a Hillary Clinton and John Kerry or, God bless him, Ted Kennedy, you have a problem on your hands," Dawson said. "But I know Lindsey. He is cagey and crafty. People forget that he grew up in the back of a pool hall and that his daddy sold liquor."
Dawson went on to point out that Graham had managed to win some legislative victories for his party.
"At the end of the day what we are looking for is offshore drilling for natural gas," Dawson said. "And Lindsey got that in the bill."