Sen. Lindsey Graham talks with constituents after a town hall meeting today in Columbia, South Carolina. Protestors have been showing up in large numbers to congressional town hall meetings across the nation. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham faced a tough, boisterous crowd at a town hall in Columbia, South Carolina today.
The public meeting came the day after Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “The process was not what I wanted it to be,” he said, adding that he thinks Obamacare is a disaster and is going to collapse. And he doesn’t think one party is going to be able to fix it alone.
“Here’s what I think should happen next,” the third-term senator said. “I think the president should reach out to Democrats, I should reach out to Democrats, and we should say, let’s take a shot at doing this together. ‘Cause it ain’t working doing by ourselves.”
Graham pushed back hard on a suggestion from an audience member that Republicans in Congress were obstructing the investigation into Russian meddling and Trump’s taxes.
“I think that’s a bunch of garbage when it comes to me — I don’t think I’ve obstructed anything,” he said. “I think I’ve been more than on the case when it comes to Russia. I think I have stood up for the idea that I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and watch the Russians try to undermine our democracy.”
Graham said the Russia investigation “goes wherever it goes”: “No politician should stand in the way. We should let the FBI do their job and what happens happens.”
On the subject of tax returns and presidential candidates, he said, “I’ve got legislation, I’ve got a Democratic sponsor, that if you run for president in 2020 you’ve got to release your tax returns.” The audience cheered.
Graham took questions for more than an hour – many from people concerned about health care and the direction the country is headed under President Trump. Charleston’s Post and Courier reported that the room at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center was packed with nearly 800 people.
Some of the loudest disapproval from the crowd concerned Graham’s support of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Graham was roundly booed as he praised Trump’s other cabinet selections, including James Mattis, General H.R. McMaster, and Rex Tillerson.
At the end of the meeting, Graham seemed to rebuke the protesters in his audience. Amidst chants of “Your last term!”, Graham said he isn’t afraid of losing his job when he runs for reelection in 2020.
“You know what I’m afraid of?” he asked. “Of losing this country. I’m afraid of this country falling apart because people can’t listen to each other, and they just yell.”