NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sen. Lindsey Graham got a warm welcome at a rally for the Senate campaign of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., by hundreds of Republicans excited to greet the lawmaker who helped get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court.
But just like the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, Sunday’s program repeatedly was disrupted by protesters, including one who shouted during a moment of silence for victims of Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and others who needed to be physically restrained and removed by police officers.
“Judge me by my friends and the people that want to yell at me,” Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News in an interview. “The only people wanting to yell at me would turn the country into a mob.”
The chaos at the Blackburn rally might not stay a standalone incident.
“It’s getting worse, because emotions are running high,” Graham said.
Blackburn and her Democratic opponent, businessman Phil Bredesen, both released statements condemning the interruptions.
Graham may have been Kavanaugh’s most outspoken defender when the focus of his confirmation hearing shifted to accusations of sexual misconduct.
“God, y’all want power, and I hope you never get it,” Graham told Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with a raised voice, during a hearing in September.
Ever since, he’s been one of the most sought-after surrogates for Republican candidates across the country hoping to rekindle strong feelings about the supercharged confirmation process.
“The reason all these people showed up for me – I was defending Kavanaugh, and they thought he got a raw deal,” Graham said. “And I said things on their behalf. If they could have been in my chair, they would have said the same thing too.”
For the first time in his career, Graham is also campaigning against some fellow senators, including Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
“I’ve done things since Kavanaugh I’ve never done before, and my whole point of doing this is – it’s got to stop,” Graham said. “The only way it will stop is if people lose their job.”
Depending on how the midterms shake out, Graham knows there could be some hard feelings back on Capitol Hill.
“It’s going to be awkward, but I can hold my head up high,” Graham said. “I can look them in the eye and say – when it was my turn, I did not do this, and you empowered it.”