Presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) had an uncomfortable interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.
Hannity, who concluded by declaring he is “like Winston Churchill” spent most of the eight-minute exchange attacking Graham. Specifically, Hannity took issue with Graham’s claim that he and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow contribute to political polarization in the US. Graham made the comments last week to NBC anchor Chuck Todd.
“I love when you go on with liberal commentators like Chuck Todd and take shots at me. That’s great,” Hannity sarcastically said to begin his back-and-forth with Graham.
The two repeatedly attempted to talk over one another throughout the interview.
Hannity went on to embrace the term “polarising” but insisted that can actually be a good thing. He cited civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President Ronald Reagan to prove his point.
“Let me deal with this word, ‘polarization,'” he said. “Wasn’t Martin Luther King, Jr. polarising in a good way — standing up for justice? He was a polarising figure, right? And wasn’t Ronald Reagan, when he took on a sitting president in ’76 — I have three articles in front of me [from the time] that describe Reagan as ‘polarising.’ He was polarising, right?”
Graham agreed with Hannity about King and Reagan, but focused his response on an issue where he and Hannity disagree: comprehensive immigration reform. Graham, a relative moderate on immigration, said Republicans need to cut a deal with Democrats that does something with the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the US.
But Hannity, undeterred, continued to press the senator on his “polarising” comment. The Fox News host noted that Graham has taken some controversial stances during his political career, including an active role in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings and supporting the 2007 US troop surge in Iraq.
“You’re talking about one issue. But you know what? You supported impeachment. Wasn’t impeachment a polarising thing?” Hannity asked. “And by the way, didn’t you support the surge? I supported the surge. Wasn’t the surge a polarising issue?”
Graham conceded that those were indeed polarising issues.
“So you’re polarising!” Hannity exclaimed.
Graham attempted to shift the subject to a potential bipartisan budget compromise that Hannity would likely oppose. They talked briefly about their disagreements there, but Hannity was not willing to let the “polarising” debate go.
“Here’s what we’ve concluded here. You say that I’m responsible for polarization. [But] you’re polarising on impeachment. You’re polarising on the surge. Reagan was polarising taking on a sitting president. Martin Luther King, Jr. was polarising in a good way. So being polarising is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “So you can apologise now.”
With a laugh, Graham told Hannity he would only “apologise if I’ve hurt your feelings.”
“And I think that would be hard for me to do,” Graham added.
Graham insisted he was only arguing that Hannity’s solutions wouldn’t get past Democrats in Congress and they should be willing to settle for more pragmatic alternatives.
“I think there comes a point where you make a principled stance. I’m like Winston Churchill: I believe in a principled stance,” Hannity said.
Watch his interview with Graham below:
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