U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was criticized around the Internet as a technological Luddite after saying on national television that he had “never sent” an email.
Critics wondered how a possible presidential candidate who doesn’t use a communications tool that’s been widespread in U.S. society for 20 years could serve on a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over such high-tech issues as online privacy.
“The idea that someone so influential could have such a huge disconnect with current mainstream technology is too troubling to contemplate,” said one poster on the Reddit news site.
Graham, 59, didn’t apologize to his critics.
But the Republican from Seneca did do a little more explaining on Monday after making the disclosure Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“I’m glad I don’t have the ability to say everything that comes to my mind instantly,” he told reporters in Concord, New Hampshire, where he was testing the waters for a possible presidential campaign.
“The way I communicate is I talk to people face to face. I pick up the phone. … The next president of the United States needs to be good with people, not just technology, and I think I’m good with people.”
Graham, a member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, said further to David Weigel of Bloomberg Politics that he has “iPads, and I play around.”
“I can get texts, and I call you back, if I want,” Graham told Weigel. “I get a text, and I respond not by sending you a text, but calling you if I think what you asked is worthy enough for me calling you. I'm not being arrogant, but I'm trying to jealously guard myself in terms of being able to think through problems and not engage in chat all day.”
Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, dismissed the dust-up as a “non-story.”
Still, the 39-year-old Harrison said he thinks “folks are going to be looking for a president of the 21st Century, not the 20th.”
“My advice to Sen. Graham’s staff is to set him up with an email account, show him how it works so he can start to communicate with the rest of America, I guess,” Harrison said, chuckling.
Greenville Republican Nate Leupp said he doesn’t look on Graham as being behind the times because he doesn’t use email.
“My thought was that one of the most influential and powerful United States senators can accomplish what he has accomplished without ever having a Senate email, I consider that almost something that’s positive,” said Leupp, first vice chair of the Greenville County Republican Party.
On “Meet The Press,” Graham spoke with correspondent Chuck Todd about the revelation that likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a private server for email, instead of a government system, when she was Secretary of State.
“Do you have a private email address?” Todd asked Graham.
“I don’t email,” Graham responded. “You can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one. I don’t know what that makes me.”