Graham: Remark about helping white men was joke

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Graham: Remark about helping white men was joke
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this March 12, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican senators eyeing the presidency split over the renewal of the Patriot Act surveillance law, with civil libertarians at odds with traditional defense hawks who back tough spying powers in the fight against terrorism. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during the 2015 Alfred K. Whitehead Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum March 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. Prospective 2016 presidential candidates from both political parties participated in the presidential forum during the conference which hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens during a news conference on the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Four powerful Republican senators are pushing for new restrictions on President Barack Obama's ability to transfer terror suspects out of the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Vice President Joe Biden shares a laugh with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. before Biden administered the Senate oath during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to volunteers at the Aiken County Republican Party office on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in Aiken, S.C. Graham is spending his last weeks of the 2014 campaign trying to get his voters o vote instead of trying to get new voters to his side. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
FILE - This July 24, 2014, file photo shows Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as he listens to other Senators speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. Islamic militants' growing influence in Iraq and Syria are a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in crushing them. (AP Photo, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, listens, during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, and his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, shake hands after discussing the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right. listens as his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, answers a question as the two discuss the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, speaks about national security as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, listens during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
South Carolina Adjutant General Robert Livingston, left, listens as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, talks about a bill passed by Congress to improve health care for veterans on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham said the most important part of the bill is the ability to fire poorly performing employees. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, talks with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014, following a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, speaks during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014. At left is Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers and avoided a runoff. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after attending a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials. Senate Republicans have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s decision to swap five members of the Taliban for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a campaign stop at American Legion Post 20 on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Greenwood, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List "Campaign for Life Gala and Summit", a gathering of anti-abortion advocates, in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to students at Winthrop University about foreign policy on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Rock Hill, S.C. It was one of a number of events for the senator as he kicked off his 2014 re-election campaign in earnest. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, left, speaks as John McCain listens during a press conference at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Republican Sen. McCain said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "serious, serious concerns" about parts of the proposal Secretary of State John Kerry is using to broker peace with the Palestinians. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
United States Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., answers a question during a news conference in Goose Creek, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. The senator said while South Carolinians and the rest of the nation are weary of war, the situation in Syria demands an American response because events there are linked to the developments in the rest of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
In this Sept. 3, 2013 photo, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter following a speech to business leaders in Goose Creek, S.C. Graham is facing three challengers in the 2014 Republican primary for his seat. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's remark at a private, all-male dinner about only helping white men if he became president was a joke taken out of context, his campaign said Thursday.

But Graham's opponent, Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto, said the comment shows he is a typical Republican who isn't concerned about the middle class, poor, minorities or women.

About 20 seconds of clips of Graham's speech were provided to The Associated Press, and Graham's campaign confirmed it was him speaking. CNN first reported the remarks Wednesday, less than a week before the election to decide whether Graham gets a third term in the Senate. He has outspent Hutto by a wide margin and is a big favorite to win in conservative South Carolina.

After using profanity to say the government is messed up, Graham tells the group: "If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency."

Graham made the remarks as part of a 10-minute speech at the Hibernian Society of Charleston at a charity event where politicians are invited to give private speeches that are serious, but also include jokes told at their expense or to poke fun at the group. Graham's campaign said his intention with the joke was to needle the historically Irish Catholic group. A recording of his entire speech to the group has not surfaced.

"Senator Graham is confident the people of South Carolina will judge him based on his record of accomplishment and will also put in its proper perspective these jokes, which were taken out of context and delivered in a private, roast-type dinner before a well-respected charity in Charleston," Graham's campaign spokesman Tate Zeigler said in a statement.

His opponent said Graham showed his true self at the event. He pointed out Graham has voted or spoke out against bills aimed at establishing equal pay for women and raising the minimum wage and the Violence Against Women Act.

"When behind the closed doors of a private club, Lindsey Graham let his true colors show. He is only interested in his own ambitions and the best interests of the wealthy donors he hopes will fund his possible presidential campaign," Hutto said in a statement.

In the other clip from the Charleston meeting, Graham makes jokes about religion.

"Do we have any Presbyterians here?" Graham said, as laughter from the group drowns out the punchline. "Do we have any Baptists? They're the ones who drink and don't admit it. Methodists? Baptists who can't read."

Jokes are a staple of Graham's public remarks, and he frequently jokes about religion in his public speeches. He often points out that Americans settle their religious differences on the church softball field, while religious differences are sometimes settled through terror and war in the Middle East. After that, he segues into calling for a strong military to fight those threats.

Earlier this week, Graham told business leaders he thinks immigration reform has to be tied to changing Social Security and Medicaid because the nation needs more workers to support its aging population.

"Where do you get the workforce if 80 million Baby Boomers are going to retire unless you start having four kids after you are 67 like Strom (Thurmond)?" Graham asked, pausing before the punchline. "Any volunteers?"

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