Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he threw his endorsement behind Jeb Bush because he thinks the former Florida governor will “get stronger over time” — and because Donald Trump is “pissing” away the Latino vote.
Graham, who suspended his own presidential campaign just before Christmas, told MSNBC he looked at the candidates in the GOP field and considers Bush “most qualified to be president.”
“He’ll do well and beat expectations. His opponent is expectations. Can he beat Mr. Expectations? I think he can,” the senator said.
“Donald Trump is the most unelectable Republican I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Graham continued. “He’s got an 81 percent disapproval rating with Hispanics, with growth potential. What did we learn in 2012? We’re pissing the Hispanic community off because we talk so harshly about illegal immigration. The answer to self-deportation is not forced deportation, including their American-born kids or the millennials. Donald Trump is going nowhere with young women.”
Asked if Trump is a brilliant politician, Graham replied, “For Democrats.”
“He’s doing well with those people who believe — that are angry for a good reason. But 75 percent of his voters believe that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya,” he added. “I don’t think you can convince Hispanics, after what he said, that you actually love them.”
“I think there’s a percentage of our people that have a hard time accepting Obama to be president. He’s driven our party crazy. He started — if he had governed like he campaigned it would be different, but he’s gone so extreme in many areas that people in our party, at least a fraction of them are just so upset by him, and Obama is giving — excuse me, Trump is feeding in to that. What is his campaign about? What is Donald Trump’s campaign about? His message is not a good message for us and it will catch up with us in general. So, if you really want to make Hillary Clinton president of the United States, vote for Donald Trump. Dishonest beats crazy.”
Graham said the GOP lost twice to Obama because the party is in “a demographic death spiral.”
“Look at the demographics with Trump. Every problem we had in 2012, he’s made worse with women, with Hispanics. He has openly said in the past that he felt President Obama was actually born in Kenya. He will not to this day admit that President Obama was born in Hawaii,” the senator said. “…You know why he won’t say he was born in Hawaii? Because half the people that support him will get mad.”
Graham opined that one of his fellow senators, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), would not be any better than Trump.
“He’s going to get killed,” Graham said. “When I think of Evangelical Christian, ‘the first thing in my mind is Donald Trump.’ No. When I think of problem solver, the first thing in my mind is not Ted Cruz. All I can say, I’ve learned one thing in 20 years, if a law is named after the president of the United States and they are still president, you are probably not going to repeal it.”
“He took our party down a strange road of shutting down the government to repeal Obamacare. And those of us that thought it was a bad tactical choice, he said, you’re actually for Obamacare. I’ll never forget that, that is McCarthy stuff. Because you disagree how to repeal Obamacare, you’re for the thing that you actually are against. I don’t like that kind of politicking; they will tear him to shreds.”