"Terrible timing, terrible tactics": Fox News host scolds Graham for hurting GOP with abortion bill

"You know that's not smart politics, right?" host Jesse Watters questioned

Published September 16, 2022 4:30PM (EDT)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

Fox News host Jesse Watters criticized Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for the "terrible timing" of his federal abortion ban bill on Tuesday. 

If passed, the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act would federally ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, extending abortion restrictions to blue states.  

Unveiled less than 60 days before the midterm elections, Republican leaders are infuriated that they may lose their polling advantage because of the bill. However, Graham told Watters he had an obligation to announce on Tuesday.

"I wasn't gonna sit on the sidelines and let America become that kinda nation," Graham said, referencing legislation in countries like North Korea and China. 

"No one's saying you need to sit on the sidelines but yesterday wasn't the day to do that," Watters said in the heated interview. "Yesterday was the day they [Democrats] lost all momentum when this inflation thing punched them right in the face and you gave them an out."

The conservative commentator went on to say that Graham should have delayed the press conference.

Graham replied that he doesn't think "there's a bad day to stand up for the unborn."

"America needs to have a policy that makes us a civilized nation," he argued, adding that "at 15 weeks when the baby can feel pain, you provide anesthesia to save its life. If you operate on it, it should be protected from being dismembered by an abortionist." 

It's with these measures that Graham claims the U.S. will be in line with France, Germany, and Great Britain. "They all have abortion bans below 15 weeks," he stated in the interview. 

However, experts say that the gestational limits outlined in abortion laws internationally are not comparable to Graham's proposed ban. Furthermore, sex education and universal health care — including public assistance for abortion — are all provided to the citizens of the countries Graham mentioned.

Despite the fact that 61% of Americans are pro-choice according to a Pew Research Study, Graham defended his bill fiercely. "I'm not gonna ever apologize for standing up for the unborn," he said. "You know what, we need to go on the offensive here."

"But you gotta talk tactics, senator," Watters contended. "This is terrible timing, terrible tactics. We coulda shoved this down their throats on the day the Americans got hammered with this inflation number and the market crashing."

The Fox News host claimed that the media has now run with a false narrative that will harm Republican chances in the upcoming midterm elections.

"And now all the media and the Democrats are talking about? Federal abortion ban. Federal abortion ban," he said. "You know that's not smart politics, right?"

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Other conservative talk show hosts have accused Graham of purposefully hurting the Republican Party with the timing of the announcement.

"This is sabotage. It's the only way to explain it," said far-right Daily Wire host Matt Walsh on his podcast. "When has [Graham] ever shown that he gives a damn about the pro-life cause? It's almost like he wants Republicans to lose. That's the conspiracy theory that I would actually subscribe to here." 

In another viral clip, Charlie Kirk, founder of pro-Trump youth organization Turning Point USA, questioned the senator's tactics.

"Why is Lindsey Graham, 25 days out from ballots going out, galloping in and saying we need a federal abortion ban?" Kirk, who also said he would "love a total abortion ban" because "15 weeks is not enough" claimed that the bill announcement "feels like election interference."

Watch Watters' interview with Graham below. 

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

MORE FROM Samaa Khullar

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2022 Elections Abortion Fox News Jesse Watters Lindsey Graham