U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday dismissed his censure by the Lexington County Republican Party as the "misplaced priorities" of narrow interests within the larger Republican Party — not a rebuke of him.
"The man who authored the resolution has never voted for a Republican nominee for president in the history of his life," said Graham, who is no stranger to intraparty criticism.
"He is the head of the Ron Paul movement in this part of South Carolina."
Paul, a Texas representative, has run unsuccessfully for president twice — once as the Libertarian Party nominee and in 2008 as a Republican — primarily on a limited-government platform.
Graham said that while there are fringe elements in both the Democratic and Republican parties, going into the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans should be focused on growing the party, registering new voters and stopping an "out-of-control Obama agenda."
The Republican Party of Lexington County, in a surprise move, voted 13-7 Monday night to censure the independent-thinking Graham.
It was the third time a county Republican Party in South Carolina had voted to censure Graham. Two years ago, the Greenville GOP censured Graham for his support of immigration reform. In November, the Charleston GOP voted to censure Graham for his support of climate-change legislation.
The vote came after an hour's debate, in which four party members abstained from voting, including county party chairman Rich Bolen, who described Monday's censure vote as an "ambush."
Advocates added the censure item to the routine agenda after the meeting began, Bolen said.
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