COLUMBIA - U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is not going to endorse either former Gov. David Beasley or U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint in the Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate, but he says he has no major differences with Mr. DeMint.
Mr. Graham said it's "not accurate" to say that, as Mr. Beasley has said, electing Mr. DeMint would cancel out his own vote.
"I'm not going to endorse either one of them, but I don't want the public to think that there's some major difference between me and Jim DeMint," Mr. Graham said Thursday.
Mr. Graham said he agrees most of the time with Mr. DeMint, who faces Mr. Beasley in the June 22 runoff for the GOP nomination for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Ernest "Fritz" Hollings. The winner faces Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and several third-party candidates in November.
"The idea that Jim is going to cancel my vote out as a senator is not accurate because we do agree most of the time," Mr. Graham said.
"The voters should know I like Jim DeMint, I'm philosophically aligned with him, he has been very good to fight China's trade abuses and if he becomes the nominee, he'll be a great senator," Mr. Graham added.
Mr. Graham said that while he would work with Mr. Beasley equally well, there's no reason to think a Graham-DeMint team wouldn't be good for South Carolina.
Mr. Beasley has said his views on trade are closer to Mr. Graham's than Mr. DeMint's.
"Congressman DeMint and Thomas Ravenel support the continuation of unfair trade deals. Lindsey Graham and I want to crack down on countries that cheat," Mr. Beasley said this week when Mr. Ravenel, who finished third in the GOP primary, endorsed Mr. DeMint.
Beasley campaign consultant Richard Quinn said there is nothing wrong with Mr. Beasley's statement.
"All Gov. Beasley has ever said in this campaign is that Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint don't vote the same way on unfair trade, and we have praised Lindsey's position," he said. "We never suggested they disagreed on any other issue or that there is a rift between them."
He added that Mr. Beasley was "merely praising Sen. Graham, not suggesting that he has endorsed anyone in this campaign."