SPARTANBURG, South Carolina — Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of Charleston’s military college The Citadel and one of three primary challengers to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), told Breitbart News on Monday that Graham is as weak as he has ever been politically, meaning a Tea Party challenger like her could sweep in and take Graham down in a potential runoff election after the primary early next summer.
“Lindsey Graham is the most vulnerable he’s ever been,” Mace said in an interview here at the classic car contest and Tea Party candidate forum at the Beacon Drive-In. “Fortunately, in South Carolina, you need more than money to win a Republican primary.”
Graham is sitting on $6 million in his campaign fund war chest, but Mace argues that Graham spending too much money on television and radio ads in South Carolina will turn off voters. “At some point, you over-saturate,” Mace said. “You’re going to reach a certain saturation point in media and in direct mail as well. Certainly, you have to raise a certain amount of funds in order to be competitive. And, to show credibility, you need to be on TV. You’ve got to raise a certain amount of money to be able to do that. You’ve got to raise a certain amount of money to be able to be out there to build a grassroots network. The person who is going to be in the runoff with Senator Graham is going to have raised enough money to build that network, to be able to be on TV a little bit, and to be able to reach their message across the entire state. And that’s important.”
“South Carolina is not Texas,” Mace added. “You don’t need to raise $8 million to win a U.S. Senate race. Our media markets are a lot less expensive here.”
Mace said that, ultimately, the goal in South Carolina is for the Tea Party candidates to get the race against Graham past the primary into a runoff in much the same way now Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) beat the GOP establishment’s candidate David Dewhurst in Texas last year. “The goal here is to have a runoff in one way, shape or form. I believe that the individual that is in the runoff will win the runoff,” Mace said. “Whatever percentage Sen. Graham receives, I believe he is going to top out at that percentage. There is some talk right now of extending the runoff from two weeks [after the primary] to four weeks. If it is four weeks, there is an even better chance of that happening.”
Mace’s campaign is barely a month old, but she said she has raised quite a bit of money to challenge Graham already. “We’ve raised about $100,000 and I’ve lost 10 pounds,” Mace said with a laugh. “So, for me, it’s two thumbs up so far. But in all seriousness, my goal right now is to get out and meet as many people as I can in South Carolina and it’s to double that network and it’s to raise the funding necessary in order to beat Sen. Graham.”
Graham on Monday met with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and President Barack Obama to help Obama plan possible military action in Syria. He has not held any town hall meetings with constituents during the August recess and held just one tele-town hall via phone, a move that allows politicians to pre-screen questions.
If Mace were South Carolina’s U.S. Senator, she told Breitbart News s he would actually be meeting with voters. “I would talk to the voters of South Carolina,” she said. “One of the things that I hear repeatedly on the campaign trail is that Sen. Graham is not here, that he’d rather be on TV than interact with and talk to and listen to the people of South Carolina. I think it’s important to have a voice in D.C., and the people of South Carolina deserve representation in D.C. even if it means that I’m standing alone.”