Earlier this month Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reelection campaign shared a new advertisement on Facebook that featured a digitally altered image of Jaime Harrison, who is black, with a much darker skin tone.
The ad was uploaded to Lindsey Graham’s Facebook page back on July 23 and included an image of Harrison that was taken by The New York Times. However, the image of Harrison used in the ad had notably darker skin.
“Hollywood continues to bankroll my opponent, raising tens of thousands in campaign cash to attack me — but they fail to understand this simple fact: South Carolinians won’t stand for Radical Leftists telling them how to think and how to vote,” Graham’s Facebook post states. “Are you with me?”
Graham’s campaign stated that an effect was used in creating the ad but pointed to past Facebook advertisements in which they said the same effect was used on Graham’s face. They called the issue a “non-story.”
“It’s sad that detractors are making up fake accusations about this graphic — intended to highlight Jaime Harrison’s support from Kathy Griffin, a liberal actress who once posed with a fake severed head of Donald Trump,” stated Graham’s communication’s director T.W. Arrighi.
In a Facebook post about the ad, Harrison wrote, “This is the oldest trick in the book. South Carolinians are sick and hurting right now, let’s keep our eye on the ball and fight for them. It’s time for Lindsey Graham to wake up to the New South: bold, inclusive. and diverse.”
“The artistic effect used, the same one that was used on Senator Graham just two days before in a video is a non-story. The only people who want to shift focus from policies important to South Carolinians — like creating jobs and bringing our medical supply chain back from China — are liberal detractors who are trying to hide their radical positions,” Arrighi added.
Graham’s campaign may call the ad a non-story, but social media users disagree. The image had garnered a lot of attention on social media at a time when racism is a major issue within the United States.
Harrison’s campaign surrogate JA Moore stated that he was “disgusted” by the ad.
“It’s the kind of dog-whistle politics that the Republican party has been practicing for a number of years now,” Moore said.
“We don’t recognize Lindsey Graham,” Moore added. “He’s not the person that was originally elected over 20 years ago to the federal office, and I think this is just another example of a bought-and-paid-for politician who is so focused on his own personal gain and less focused on the people of South Carolina.”
The Lexington County, South Carolina, Democratic Party tweeted that the state “will elect (Harrison) regardless of what kind of stunts Lindsey tries to pull.”
“We don’t care how dark a person’s skin might be. We vote for the person, not their skin pigment. We all know Jaime and know a fake photo,” the tweet said.
Harrison announced his bid against Graham in a video message posted in May 2019. In the video, he spoke about his background in the state and the importance of health care and student loans. He also mentioned Graham’s long record in politics and his support of Donald Trump.
“Here’s a guy who will say anything to stay in office,” Harrison said of Graham at the time. “Lindsey Graham can’t lead us in any direction because he traded his moral compass for petty political gain.”