COLUMBIA — A retweet by a Republican challenger to Lindsey Graham referred to the U.S. senator as “Nancy boy graham,” according to a government watchdog website.
The retweet, which came from Nancy Mace’s twitter account @nancymace Tuesday, was deleted 10 minutes later, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops, which tracks politicians’ deleted tweets.
“Nancy boy” is a derogatory term used to describe an effeminate man. Graham periodically has been the target of similar rhetoric and questions about his sexuality.
Mace – owner of a Charleston public relations and marketing firm, and the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college – said she was unaware of the deleted tweet. Campaign staffers manage the account, and may have posted it and then deleted it, after realizing it was “inappropriate,” Mace said Wednesday.
“I did not retweet it,” Mace said, adding she encourages her staff members to be active on social media and retweet messages from supporters.
Mace, who announced her candidacy Saturday, said deleting the tweet was “the right call,” adding “smears and personal attacks” are part of why she decided to run. “I would never condone the smearing of any of my opponents.”
When asked, Mace would not say how many people she has working on her campaign. Asked whether whoever retweeted the item would face consequences, Mace called the action an accident and said, “I take full responsibility for the tweet. Period.”
Graham’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Mace’s twitter account retweeted @PaulSteel4, who wrote, “@nancymace we support you here in Florida. Nancy Mace vs Nancy boy graham.”
Mace is not Graham’s only Republican primary challenger.
Easley businessman Richard Cash, who ran for Congress and narrowly lost in 2010, was the first candidate to announce he would challenge Graham in the 2014 primary. State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, also has launched a campaign website and said he soon will announce his candidacy.
The challengers have support of Tea Party groups looking to prevent Graham from winning a third six-year term. Those groups say the Seneca Republican is too moderate, and too willing to reach across the political aisle and make deals with Democrats.