TOO LATE…. I don’t agree with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on much of anything, but I’m nevertheless willing to give him at least some credit for his reluctance to pander to his party’s crazies. Last night, he appeared at a town-hall meeting in Greenville, and was confronted by right-wing activists. They were, in particular, annoyed by Graham’s support for the Sotomayor nomination and his willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy.

…Graham stressed a mantra he’s repeated many times since his friend John McCain lost the presidential election last November — that the GOP must reach out to different constituencies, or face extinction.

“I’m not going to leave the Republican Party,” Graham said when one questioned asked him why he hasn’t yet joined the Democrats. “I’m going to grow it. We’re not going to be the party of angry white guys….. [W]e’re going to move this party and this country forward. If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

His remarks were not, as you might imagine, well received.

It’s worth emphasizing, and keeping in mind, that Graham isn’t moderate. Not even close. On most of the policy debates that matter, Lindsey Graham is unfailingly conservative.

Indeed, the Washington Monthly ran a great cover-story on Graham a few years ago, noting, among other things, that the South Carolinian uses his reputation for independence and an “evenhanded posture” to advance a conservative agenda, not “bipartisan” consensus.

Nevertheless, I’m glad to hear anyone in a position of authority in the Republican Party tell the Teabagging crowd that the Republican Party shouldn’t just be “the party of angry white guys.” I wonder, though, if Graham realizes his admonition may be too late.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.