Though his ad might have seemed like an endorsement for Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamA real national security budget would fully fund State Department Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Dem senator: House Intel chairman may have revealed classified info MORE (R-S.C.), Mike Huckabee is insisting he didn't wade into the state's contentious GOP primary.
The former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas governor now says his appearance in a video praising Graham's commitment to fight "radical Islam" does not mean he's throwing his weight behind the state's senior senator.
In the ad — which aired during the Capital One Bowl football game between the South Carolina and Wisconsin universities, according to The State newspaper — Huckabee praises Graham for his work on foreign policy issues. The video was paid for by the South Carolina Conservative Action Alliance.
"Ronald Reagan's leadership brought down the Berlin Wall and crushed the Soviet empire. The enemy of our time is radical Islam. And there's a leader in South Carolina who knows what it takes to win: Lindsey Graham. He demands answers on Benghazi, backs our allies in Israel, and he fights for a strong national defense," Huckabee says in the ad.
But Huckabee, who said during a book tour last month that he's open to another bid for the White House, later posted a message to his website clarifying that the message wasn't intended as a campaign endorsement.
"To be clear, I haven't endorsed Lindsey Graham for Senate," Huckabee wrote. "Last year, I voiced an ad thanking him for support of Israel. It was not an endorsement for his reelection. In fact, I don't plan to endorse anyone in SC Senate race in the primary but I will certainly help in the general election if asked."
At least four primary opponents — state Sen. Lee Bright, ice cream truck businessman Richard Cash, U.S. Army veteran Bill Connor and Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel — have emerged to challenge Graham from the right.