Lindsey Graham: Caitlyn Jenner ‘Welcome’ in My GOP
Policy + Politics

Lindsey Graham: Caitlyn Jenner ‘Welcome’ in My GOP

Vanity Fair

As a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks the people of the United States need to be very afraid of ISIS. But do they need to be afraid of Caitlyn Jenner? Not so much, says Graham.

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired on Sunday morning, the South Carolina Republican flouted the conventions of his party’s social conservatives by referring to Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and later reality television star Bruce Jenner, by her chosen name and pointedly used the pronoun “she” while saying that Jenner is welcome in his Republican Party.

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“If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be safe and have a prosperous economy, vote for me,” Graham said.

“I’m into addition. I haven’t walked in...” here Graham paused, before saying, with slight emphasis, “her shoes. I don’t have all the answers to the mysteries of life. I can only imagine the torment that Bruce Jenner went through. I hope he—” then quickly correcting himself, “I hope she—has found peace. I’m a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy, but I am running to be president of the United States. If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a Republican, she is welcome in my Party.”

In the pre-recorded interview, Graham sat with Bash in Iowa, at an event held by freshman Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, which attracted many GOP candidates to the early primary state.

Bash, who had begun the line of questioning by quoting a conservative Iowa Republican talk radio host who said that if the GOP did not stand up for traditional gender identification it would lose voters, then asked, “So Republicans should reach out to people like her? To transgender Americans?”

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Graham replied, “Understand what you’re getting in Lindsey Graham. I’m pro-life, pro-marriage, without animosity. The courts are going to rule probably in June about traditional marriage. I will accept the court’s decision.”

Moving back to Jenner, he said, “Here’s what I would say to the talk show host: In the eyes of radical Islam, they hate you just as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner. They hate us all because we won’t agree to their view of religion. So America, we are all in this together.”

Graham’s willingness to accept Jenner as female rather than male stands in stark contrast to the party’s religious conservatives, who vary between condemning and mocking those who identify as transgendered.

Last week, for instance, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, also running for the Republican nomination, faced criticism when a recording of a speech he gave earlier this year was uncovered. In it, he appeared to belittle people with non-traditional gender identities.

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