COLUMBIA, S.C. — Whatever your philosophy, there was something for almost everyone in Sen. Lindsey Graham's performance Sunday at a town hall meeting at the University of South Carolina that drew more than 350.
"I'm a free-market guy with a heart," said Graham, a South Carolina Republican serving his second term in the Senate.
Graham — using simple language and folksy stories about his upbringing, in which government handouts helped his struggling family — explained for almost two hours his complex political views on equally complex political issues.
President Barack Obama? His health care plan is "phony baloney," and the public option (a government-run insurance program that competes with private insurance companies) is "dead," he said to applause.
But do you want — like Obama — to make the rich pay their fair share for any new health care program? So does Graham. People who make Grahams income ($170,000) and more should pay more for government-subsidized health plans, like Medicare B, the senator said to somewhat less applause.
Want to stay in Afghanistan, maybe increase our presence and loosen rules of engagement so Americans can fight the Taliban better? So does Graham.
Don't like private insurance companies? Graham would squeeze them. He would make them cover every American and not be able to reject someone for a pre-existing condition.
"I thought he had a lot to say," said Lynn Greenlee, 50, of Columbia, a supporter who found the meeting "very informative."
A minority of the largely conservative crowd was not pleased with some Graham positions.
Moses Bell, 55, of Ridgeway, told Graham the "public option" represented competition and Republicans wanted "to protect insurance companies" by not having a government-run insurance program. "I'm a supporter of President Obama," Bell said.
Graham listened as Bell listed concerns and complaints, then thanked Bell for coming.
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