Challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for the Republican nomination, ex-cop Dave Feliciano called the incumbent “ambiguously gay.”
During a campaign event in Columbia Thursday, Feliciano, who quit his job with the Spartanburg Police Department to run for office, appeared with three veteran GOP running mates at the State House.
Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Feliciano all pledged to back each other in a runoff against Graham.
“It’s about time that South Carolina [says], ‘Hey, we’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party,'” Feliciano said. “We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November.”
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Graham, 58, has never married.
While Cash distanced himself from Feliciano’s comments, calling them inappropriate, Bright defended them.
“He hasn’t said anything that would be contrary to conservative beliefs,” Bright said. “He just expressed an opinion. But that doesn’t say anything about how he would vote in the U.S. Senate. Graham has done and said much more offensive things.”
Feliciano said in a statement Thursday evening that he has no intention of apologizing for the remark, citing Graham’s incompetence in stopping abortion.
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“First off I stand by my comment,” he said. “I will not apologize. You’re right, I came off as a bit insensitive, but it got your attention. It should have, there is more at stake here then a job. Lindsey Graham confirmed two judges that will continue the abortion holocaust in America for years to come.”
“As far as respect for the man, not going to happen here,” he continued. “He has millions of lives that will be lost because of his incompetence. And for what, so he can look pretty in Washington.”
Graham was caught on a hot mic Thursday telling Secretary of State John Kerry, “Let me know what I can do to help you with Boehner.”
Graham was referring to a bill that would provide economic assistance to the Ukraine. Both House and Senate Republicans oppose the measure.
Feliciano is one of six candidates running against Graham in the Republican primary.