Sen. Lindsey O. Graham said Tuesday that it would be, “like, terrible” if a DNA test found that he had Iranian heritage, a comment that a Fox News Channel host tried to walk back just after the South Carolina Republican made it.
Graham made the remark at the end of an interview on “Fox & Friends,” during which he was asked about the recent announcement by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that she had taken a DNA test linking her to a distant Native American ancestor.
“I’m going to take a DNA test,” Graham said in response, adding: “I’ve been told that my grandmother was part Cherokee Indian. It may all be just talk. But you’re going to find out in a couple of weeks, because I’m going to take this test. I’m taking it, and the result’s going to be revealed here.”
Graham, one of President Trump’s closest congressional allies, added that he thinks he may be more Native American than Warren.
“She’s less than one-tenth of one percent,” Graham said. “I think I can beat her.”
Warren’s DNA test indicated that she is probably between 1/64 and 1/1024 Native American.
As the interview concluded, “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy invited Graham to “come back in a couple of weeks and we’ll take a look.”
Brian Kilmeade, another co-host of the show, added, “We’ll find out who you really are.”
Graham quipped back: “I’ll probably be Iranian. That would be, like, terrible.”
Doocy and Graham shared a moment of laughter, after which Kilmeade quickly sought to amend Graham’s remark.
“Well, they have great people, just bad leaders,” he said, to which Graham responded: “Yeah, bad leaders. I’m not in the ayatollah branch.”
The remark prompted outrage online Tuesday morning. Actress Yara Shahidi called it a “sickening display of racism and bigotry.”
“Proudly Iranian over here,” she said in a tweet.
A spokesman for Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.