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South Carolina Republicans Rally to Graham’s Defense

Arguing that “circular firing squads— tear down the party, South Carolina Republicans came to the the defense of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and pushed back against the Lexington County Republican Party’s decision to formally censure him on Monday.

In a letter to County GOP Chairman Rich Bolen, four former county chairmen — Scott Malyerck, Katrina Shealy, Butch Wallace and Lyman Whitehead — took aim at the censure resolution, which criticized Graham for his work across the aisle on immigration reform, the 2008 financial industry bailout and other bipartisan efforts.

“We are incredibly disappointed about the events of last night’s Executive Committee meeting, and we are very discouraged about what a handful of members of the committee were allowed to do in the name of the Lexington County Republican Party,— the letter states. “We believe the actions of a disgruntled few will tarnish the years of hard work invested by thousands of Republicans who have worked for years to build our Party.—

The former chairmen also took issue with how the resolution was moved, noting that an e-mail notice of Monday’s meeting did not include the censure motion as an agenda item and that objections to considering the resolution were overruled.

“On the e-mail notice that went out before the meeting, there was no mention that any resolutions would be considered, much less a resolution to censure our senior United States Senator. When the time came for a decision about whether a quorum existed or whether the motion should be postponed until February, the demands of a vocal minority won. For something as serious as a censure resolution, the process should have been above reproach,— the chairmen wrote.

Graham was equally critical of those who pushed the censure motion, saying: “I have tried my best to be a conservative that can grow and build this party. They have no desire to do that. I do.—

According to state GOP sources, the author of the resolution is Talbert Black Jr., the interim state director of Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) political organization, Campaign for Liberty. Paul ran for president in 2008.

In a biographical profile page of Black on the group’s Web site, Black says: “I decided many years ago to never compromise my vote (lesser of two evils). Since then, I have never voted for a Republican nor a Democratic Party candidate for president. I thought I was fighting a losing retreat, watching the sun set on our once great republic. Now I feel a breath of new hope.—

The Lexington GOP became the third county party to censure Graham since 2007, joining the Charleston and Greenville County parties.

Meanwhile, in a statement to CNN, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) — who has become an icon of conservative “Tea Party” activists and others critical of Graham — came to Graham’s defense.

“Lindsey Graham has been a great leader for our state and party. I appreciate everything he has done for me and his tireless work in helping Republicans at all levels of government. He’s a team player. Ronald Reagan always said that people who agree with you 80 percent of the time should be considered a good friend. Reagan was a wise man and if we want to build a strong, vibrant Republican Party we should follow his advice,— Wilson said in the statement.

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