Sen. Lindsey Graham, the favored candidate in his upcoming race against Brad Hutto, was captured by audio making jokes about Baptists, white men and even the government, dropping the f-bomb while apologizing to a behind-closed-door crowd about the state of the federal system.
Mr. Graham’s campaign confirmed the audio was genuine to CNN, and said the South Carolina senator made the remarks several weeks ago during a private meeting of the Hibernian Society of Charleston, an Irish-Catholic group that’s known for its bawdy get-togethers with high-profile politicians.
Mr. Graham is heard on the recordings joking about a possible 2016 presidential run, first reported by The Weekly Standard.
“I’m trying to help you with your tax status,” he said, the audio revealed, CNN reported. “I’m sorry the government’s so [expletive] up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.”
The crowd then laughs, while Mr. Graham goes on speaking.
“We got any Presbyterians here? We got any Baptists? They’re the ones that drink and don’t admit it,” he said, and the crowd once again laughs, CNN reported.
Mr. Graham told CNN that he was making fun of the society’s all-male membership and said he hoped the audio didn’t show poorly about the group.
“They are great guys,” he said, CNN reported, saying the Hibernian Society basically wants speakers “to be earthy, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of them. Then you say something serious and sit down. And if you talk over 20 minutes, they throw something at you.”
He likened it to the tone and atmosphere of the Gridiron Dinner.
“I have never been to the Gridiron Dinner, but it’s a little like that,” he said, CNN reported.
Mr. Graham’s campaign said his remarks were made by phone from South Carolina.