Lindsey Graham's campaign gets caught using racist imagery in ad against his Democratic challenger

Lindsey Graham's campaign gets caught using racist imagery in ad against his Democratic challenger
Gage Skidmore

Already this week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue had to pull an ad for anti-Semitism after The Forward showed that it included a picture of Perdue’s Democratic—and Jewish—opponent, Jon Ossoff, altered to make his nose appear larger. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, though, isn’t taking down an ad that darkens the skin of his opponent, Jaime Harrison, who is Black.


“It's sad that detractors are making up fake accusations about this graphic,” according to a Graham campaign spokesman, who admitted that the ad used an “artistic effect.” You know, the artistic effect of making a Black man look darker and therefore ostensibly scarier.

Graham’s campaign also insisted the “artistic effect” was innocent because the same effect was, they said, used on Graham recently in a video. Okay, if that happened, was that video from the Harrison campaign? One somehow feels the Graham campaign would mention it if that were the case. Additionally, there’s something different about showing someone’s face thrown into shadow as a frame or two of a video and darkening a still photo. And, oh, right, racism exists and it’s different to darken a Black man’s skin.

“It's the kind of dog-whistle politics that the Republican party has been practicing for a number of years now,” state Rep. JA Moore told CNN. “This is the oldest trick in the book,” Harrison’s campaign posted on Facebook. Indeed. Even if you leave out Perdue’s anti-Semitic ad, this is far from the first case of Republicans darkening the skin of a Black person for campaign purposes.

For instance, in 2019, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out an email with an image of former NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick with darkened skin. Sen. John McCain’s campaign did the same to then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, and McCain was supposedly an honorable Republican—one who’d been the subject of racist attacks centering on rumors about his adopted Bangladeshi daughter in the 2000 South Carolina election. Also in 2008, the National Republican Congressional Committee darkened the skin of Democratic House candidate Ashwin Madia. Just this month, a PAC sent out a mailer darkening the skin of Democratic candidate T’wina Nobles in a Washington State Senate race.

It’s not a new tactic, but it is a racist one. Oh, and by the way:

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