GREENVILLE, S.C. — South Carolina’s senior Senator Lindsey Graham paid a surprise visit today to the GEICO Bassmaster Classic Outdoors EXPO presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
Graham grew up in nearby Central, S.C., and spent many days of his youth fishing for crappie on Lake Hartwell. He caught the biggest bass of his life two years ago at Hartwell fishing from the bank. It was a 5-pounder caught on a spinnerbait. Is it possible the Senator big-eyed that fish? “The bass get bigger the older you get,” said the 62-year-old.
“The best memories of my youth are fishing and hunting with my dad,” said Graham.
Editor's note: See more photos of Senator Graham at the EXPO.
The longtime Republican Senator, representing South Carolina since 2003, arrived at the EXPO with no security detail in tow. “Cheaper that way,” he said with a smile.
The EXPO was packed with fishing fans when Graham arrived. “This is amazing,” he said, gazing out at the crowd and row upon row of fishing gear. “These are the people who pay the taxes and fight the wars. They are the heart and soul of our state and the country. I tell my liberal friends, if you want to meet a conservationist, talk to a sportsman. They care about clean water and keeping fish healthy.”
As he toured the Expo with B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin, one fan asked Graham why he came to the EXPO. “Same reason as any fisherman,” he said. “I want to see what’s new.” He later told Akin, “I’m honored you picked Upstate South Carolina for the Bassmaster Classic.”
When Akin mentioned that the Classic winner would receive $300,000, the Senator said, “That tax cut looks pretty good right about now.”
Graham said fishing and his current occupation have a lot in common. “It’s a lot like politics. You sit around all day talking, hoping something good happens.”
Graham’s hometown of Central is just a stone’s throw from the north end of Lake Hartwell. His parents ran a restaurant-bar-pool hall-liquor store there, the Sanitary Café. He was the first member of his family to attend college. Graham earned a B.A. in psychology and a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. Graham served as a U.S. Congressman before being elected to the Senate.