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Senate debate to change format after Graham refuses to take COVID-19 test

In response to Graham's refusal to be tested, Harrison asked why Graham won't take a COVID test. "He needs to explain why," Harrison said.
Credit: Graham, Harrison campaigns
Lindsey Graham (left), Jaime Harrison (right)

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — A debate scheduled to take place Friday between Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jaime Harrison and Sen. Lindsey Graham has been altered as the two candidates spent over a day arguing over COVID-19 testing. 

The forum beings at 7 PM and can be seen in the video player above.

The back and forth began Thursday night and didn't stop Friday. With neither side budging, debate organizers have changed it from a formal debate what's now being referred to as a "forum." Each candidate will appear separately onstage in a roundtable discussion with two panelists and a host, with each side getting a half hour. So far, it appears this will be the plan, unless someone throws a lass minute flag. 

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Thursday night, Harrison called on Graham to take a COVID-19 test ahead of Friday’s debate, saying Graham had been in the presence of at least two U.S. Senators just eight days ago who have tested positive.

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In a news release from his campaign, Harrison calls for Graham to “follow the example of Vice President Mike Pence, and follow his own precedent from the last debate, and take a COVID test.”

Harrison also went on to say that if Graham will not take a coronavirus test that he cannot “responsibly debate in person tomorrow night and allow politics to put my family, my campaign staff, Sen. Graham’s staff, and members of the media at unnecessary risk.”

Graham’s campaign responded Thursday night saying that, weeks ago, he “agreed to [the debate] rules and will continue to abide by them.”

In a statement, the campaign said Graham “took a COVID-19 test last week after a Judiciary Committee hearing.”

“Whether Mr. Harrison attends tomorrow’s debate is his decision, not mine. I will be there,” Graham said.

In response to Graham's refusal to be tested, Harrison asked why Graham won't take a COVID test. “This isn't about anyone’s campaign, it’s about keeping people safe – and if Senator Graham is unwilling to do that, he needs to explain why."

Friday, the two continued to go back and forth. 

""All I'm asking is for the senator to verify that he's healthy enough to be in a room," Harrison said in an interview with News19 Friday. "I don't undestand why he can't get a COVID test now." 

Graham accused Harrison of wanting special treatment. "Other than Mr. Harrison, is any other South Carolinian demanding every person they come in contact with be tested before they meet?," Graham wrote on Twitter.

Following reports that many members of the President's inner circle are testing positive for COVID-19, it has also been reported that Sen. Graham attended a hearing with Sen. Mike Lee on October 1, and Sen. Lee and Sen. Thom Tillis have both tested  positive for coronavirus. Medical experts recommend waiting fourteen days after exposure to coronavirus, and on Friday it will be only eight days since Sen. Graham was exposed to his Senate colleagues.

The debate, scheduled to take place Friday evening in Spartanburg, can be seen live on WLTX at 7 p.m. Friday.