U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday he supports the South Carolina Legislature’s ability to make its own decisions on whether to remove Confederate monuments in the state.
Federal, state and local lawmakers across the country have been thrust into the debate after the recent violent protests in Charlottesville, Va. Graham said he supports the push to keep Confederate monuments standing. But he said he would agree with decisions made by his state’s General Assembly.
A law called the S.C. Heritage Act, passed in 2000, puts decisions concerning all public Confederate monuments, markers and memorials in the hands of legislators. The Heritage Act requires a two-thirds vote from the legislature for any change to a monument.
“I will support that decision,” said Graham, speaking after an afternoon meeting in York with several county and town officials. “The Civil War did exist. We need to learn from our past and make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of our past, and move forward as a nation and as a state.”
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Graham also talked about the recent North Korean ballistic missile strike and division in Congress between Democrats and Republicans.
North Korea today launched a ballistic missile over Japan. What have you heard about the incident?
“There’s just a matter of time before (North Korea develops) an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) with a nuclear weapon on top that can hit America. They’re not there yet, but they’re trying.
“(President Donald) Trump is right not to ever let that happen. I don’t want to live my life and future generations of Americans to live under the threat of a nuclear attack from a crazy man in North Korea. I don’t want a war either. We need to tell China, ‘You need to deal with this guy.’ China owns 90 percent of the North Korean economy, and if they believe that we would use military force to protect our homeland, I think China would change their behavior.
“I’m convinced of the following, if Donald Trump had to, as a last resort, he would use military force to stop North Korea from being able to attack America with a missile and a nuclear weapon on top, and he should do that as a last resort. I hope we never get there, but what they did with Japan is very scary and unnerving. If there’s a war with North Korea, I want the war to be over there and not here. I don’t want a war at all.”
What do you think about the division in Congress between Democrat and Republican factions?
“I’ve never seen things as bad as I see them now. I’m a proud conservative Republican, but we need to find a way to move things forward.
“The more division that’s here at home, the more enticing it is. There’s no accident (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) fired this missile when Texas is under water.
“I will gladly work with a Democrat for the things that matter to me in the country, like fixing a broken immigration system, building up a military that we all need, or finding a way to be more environmentally-friendly and business-friendly at the same time.”