FLORENCE, S.C. — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham called for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to reject funding from MoveOn.org on Tuesday afternoon at a news conference in Florence.
Graham spoke about Biden after being asked a question by the Post and Courier at a news conference held at Victors to announce his endorsement by the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police and Florence County Sheriff William C. "Billy" Barnes.
The Charleston newspaper asked if Graham saw Biden as a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters, a question Biden asked rhetorically during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
"I would say this to Joe Biden: You need to reject MoveOn.org" Graham said. "You need to tell them I don't want any money from you. You need to stand up to the people that are in control of your party."
Graham said Biden should have spoken out at the convention about rioting and the destruction of property.
"You had your chance," Graham said. "You had a whole week to tell us what you thought about law enforcement. The reason you're out now is because the tide has turned."
He said he liked Biden "fine" but that the agenda provided by the Democrats was devastating for public safety.
Graham contrasted the Democrats with the Republicans, who he said talked about violent crime during their national convention.
"This is important to me. It's important to the president," Graham said. "Giving a speech now after the tide has turned is not persuasive."
Prior to the question-and-answer session, Graham spoke for six minutes at the news conference.
His campaign has held several similar news conferences across the state − one is scheduled Wednesday in Greenville − to announce Graham's support for law enforcement officers.
"What brought us here today?" Graham said. "We're in a campaign, right? Who should be the next senator from South Carolina?"
Graham faces Democrat challenger Jaime Harrison in November. He received more than 67% of the vote to win the Republican primary over challengers Michael LaPierre, Joe Reynolds and Dwayne "Duke" Buckner.
Harrison did not face a primary opponent. Former Lt. Gov. candidate Gloria Tinubu dropped out of the race prior to the beginning of filing for the race.
"You've got two choices here," Graham said. "You've got a candidate who was a staff member of the national Democratic Party receiving money from MoveOn.org."
The Graham campaign provided screenshots of tweets from MoveOn.org endorsing Harrison and calling for police departments across the country to acknowledge the harm "their institution has caused Black families" and to make an official apology and also for cities to reallocate resources from police departments to community safety measures, housing, health care and education.
The campaign also provided a portion of two disbursement forms showing a contribution from MoveOn.org to Harrison's campaign.
Graham said later in the news conference that he would not take a cent from MoveOn.org.
In response to a question, Graham told Harrison not to tell him that the people wanting to defund the police don't see Harrison as an ally. Harrison, Graham continued, would be lock-step with Democratic Party "hellbent" on changing society.
"So the new thing from our Democratic friends is that we're not talking about defunding the police, we're just talking about taking money from their budget and moving it somewhere else," Graham said. "That sounds like defunding the police to me."
Graham said this agenda was out of sync with the Palmetto State.
'I'm in sync with this state," Graham said.
Graham pointed to the police officers and family members gathered behind him on the stage.
"I've earned their trust, I would like to think," Graham said. "When it comes to Sen. Graham, they know where I stand."
He added that no one wants a "bad cop," and that everyone wants transparency, accountability and support.
Graham added that defunding the police would hurt poor communities and communities of color. He said that those communities want more community police and that only liberals who are out of touch with what it's like to live in such a neighborhood want less police officers.
"It seems to be open season on cops," Graham said.
He said the FBI had recently warned the Chicago Police Department about a gang pact to shoot police officers who draw their weapons on a suspect.
"It's dangerous to be a cop right now, because the support in certain areas of the country is missing," Graham said. "Not here. Not by me. For those who want to defund the police, bad idea. Dangerous idea. Count me in the resistance. ... If you want more money for social services, fine. Don't take it from the cops' money."
He added that every now and then people need to talk about what it meant to be a police officer.
"How many NBA games have been canceled because of the four police officers killed in the last couple of days? None," Graham said.
On Aug. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Soon afterward, the NBA canceled three other games that night. Later, Major League Baseball, the Women's Tennis Association and the WNBA also canceled games or matches.
Kenosha is a city located on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Graham added that more police officers had been killed in the line of duty during August than in all of 2019.
"There's a 28% increase in the number of police officers dying in the line of duty," Graham said. "It is dangerous. Unnecessarily dangerous."
Law and order, Graham continued, is on the ballot this year.
He also thanked law enforcement officers and their families before taking questions.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.