GRAHAM’S most brazen reference to his own political fortunes came on Wednesday night after the hearing had concluded for the day, when he made an appeal for campaign donations from the hallway of a Senate office building, violating a law that bars senators and their staff members from receiving or soliciting political contributions in any federal building.
“I think people in South Carolina are excited about Judge Barrett,” Mr. Graham told reporters, addressing television cameras assembled to cover the hearings. “I don’t know how much it affected fund-raising today, but if you want to help me close the gap: LindseyGraham.com. A little bit goes a long way.”
Facing a tough re-election fight, Senator Lindsey Graham has tried to leverage his role as the ringmaster of confirmation ceremonies. His stream-of-consciousness dialogue has gotten him into trouble.
WASHINGTON — Around the time he was ready to wrap up the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, blurted out the clear subtext of President Trump’s rush to install her before Election Day.
“You all have a good chance of winning the White House,” Mr. Graham told the Democrats on the committee, suggesting that they might soon have the chance to push through their own court nominees.
The frank assessment was typical of Mr. Graham, who has cultivated a reputation in the Senate for serving up candid commentary with a winking, sardonic twist. But it was also a gaffe of sorts, effectively conceding Democrats’ central argument against rushing to confirm Judge Barrett before voters have their say on Nov. 3.
In a week of televised hearings, it was not the only misstep by Mr. Graham, who is facing a difficult re-election battle of his own in South Carolina.
The blunders came at a critical moment for Mr. Graham, who had hoped his high-profile role in the hearings would give him a political boost in his increasingly tight re-election race.
“The contest in South Carolina has taken on a national profile,” Mr. Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I trust the people of South Carolina to get it right.”
One of the starkest moments came on Thursday, when Mr. Graham tried to justify the rush to confirm Judge Barrett, arguing that voters elected a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate and expected them to confirm conservative judges.
“I think the public will go into the voting booth and they’ll say: ‘OK, I’ve seen the kind of judges Democrats will nominate. I’ve seen the kind of judges Republicans will nominate.’ And that will be important to people,” he said.