U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s jokes about Baptists and all-male clubs recently elicited laughter during a private roast-style event for one such all-male group.
But Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto, Republican Graham’s opponent in Tuesday’s election, isn’t laughing about the jokes, recorded by two Democrats and and leaked to CNN Wednesday.
CNN posted the audio clips online.
“I’m trying to help you with your tax status,” Graham says in the recording. “I’m sorry the government’s so f---ed up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.”
Never miss a local story.
Graham, who has said the White House could be in his future, told CNN’s Peter Hamby on Wednesday that he made the comments several weeks ago to the Hibernian Society of Charleston, an “Irish-Catholic charity organization that sometimes hosts big-name politicians for irreverent and frequently bawdy speeches,” Hamby wrote.
In the audio, Graham also makes a joke about Baptists being “the ones that drink and don’t admit it” – similar to a joke he tells while on the campaign trail before discussing the threat of radical Islam.
The society encourages speakers “to be earthy, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of them. Then, you say something serious and sit down. And if you talk over 20 minutes, they throw something at you,” Graham, who is Baptist himself, told Hamby.
Graham said he was making fun of the group’s all-male membership, “joking that they were the last such organization in existence after Augusta National Golf Club admitted women,” Hamby reported.
Graham also said he hoped the audio would not reflect negatively on the club members who are “great guys.”
Hutto, Graham’s Democratic opponent, criticized the two-term senator for the comments.
“When behind the closed doors of a private club, Lindsey Graham let his true colors show,” Hutto said in a statement. “He is only interested in his own ambitions and the best interests of the wealthy donors he hopes will fund his possible presidential campaign.”