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Graham praises Heller for Kavanaugh vote at Henderson event

Lindsey Graham told voters during a campaign stop Friday that Dean Heller, his Republican Senate colleague, deserves to go back to Washington because he voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Dean is in a tough race,” said Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, during a GOP rally in Henderson to support Heller and congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian. “Every vote he takes is under a microscope, and he doesn’t look at it that way. He goes with what he believes is best for Nevada and the country and he’s willing to take heat.”

Kavanaugh, who faced multiple allegations of sexual assault, was confirmed in a 50-48 vote, but Graham knew he would have Heller’s support.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, Lindsey, he’s highly qualified,’” Graham recalled. “‘I’m proud of President Trump’s nomination. He has my vote.’”

Graham was joined Friday by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner who reminded voters what’s at stake: Flipping the seat is Democrats’ best shot at taking back the Senate.

“It’s going to come down to Nevada,” Gardner said. “It’s going to come down to Dean Heller.”

Tarkanian told the crowd they’ll help decide who controls Congress by electing him.

Outside the Henderson rally, Nevada Democrats put up a “Senator Spineless” blowup, a symbol used by Rosen’s campaign mocking Heller for his shifting votes on the Affordable Care Act.

“Since Donald Trump was elected, we’ve watched Heller morph from someone who was 99 percent against Trump into a spineless rubber stamp for Trump’s agenda,” said Assemblyman William McCurdy II, chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party.

But inside, supporters donned “Make America Great Again” caps and vowed to help Heller win.

“Heller supports the vets and seniors and he’s a friend of Trump now,” said Pete Gapero, 69, a Marine veteran from Hawaii.

Heller touted Trump’s large turnout in Elko and praised Graham for traveling with him to Israel for the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Graham said he doesn’t know much about Heller’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, but “I know who she hangs out with.” He repeatedly attacked Democrats over the Kavanaugh hearings.

“Why us?” Graham said. “Because it’s a noble cause in their eyes to destroy a conservative judicial candidate and I hope it blows up in their face. I hope politically they pay a price for this.”

Graham’s use of the words “blows up” was criticized on social media after a suspect mailed suspected bombs to more than a dozen prominent Democrats this week.

In an interview with the Review-Journal after the rally, Graham quickly denounced the violence.

“This is political terrorism generated by a man who thinks he’s helping Trump, who’s hurting America,” Graham said. “I hope he feels the full force of the law. I don’t blame President Trump for his actions any more than I blame Bernie Sanders for the actions of the man who shot Steve Scalise.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

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