A recording of Sen. Lindsey Graham poking fun at male-only clubs and Baptists at a private gathering in Charleston has surreptitiously found its way to CNN.
Graham, who is running for re-election to the Senate and has been considered for a 2016 presidential bid, told the news network he made the jokes several weeks ago at a meeting of the Hibernian Society in Charleston.
CNN posted audio of his remarks on its website. The news network said the audio was provided by two Democrats who wanted to remain anonymous.
In the audio, the South Carolina Republican says that "white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency."
He also said about Baptists that "they're the ones who drink and don't admit it."
CNN contacted Graham after receiving the recording.
Graham told CNN he was making fun of the society's all-male membership, joking that they were the last such organization in existence after Augusta National Golf Club admitted women.
Graham also said he regularly teases South Carolina audiences about their various religious denominations, before making a larger point about religious liberty in the United States and warning about the threat of radical Islam overseas.
The Graham campaign said Wednesday night that his comments were taken out of context.
"Senator Graham is confident the people of South Carolina will judge him based on his record of accomplishment and will also put in its proper perspective these jokes," spokesman Tate Zeigler said. The comments were "delivered in a private roast-type dinner before a well-respected charity in Charleston."
Graham's opponent, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, had a different take.
"When behind the closed doors of a private club, Lindsey Graham let his true colors show," Hutto said on his campaign website. "He (Graham) is only interested in his own ambitions and the best interests of the wealthy donors he hopes will fund his possible presidential campaign."
Attempts to reach an officer with the Hibernian Society were not unsuccessful.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.