South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham will raise money for Ted Cruz on Monday, in what amounts to a full reversal of his position on the firebrand Texas senator. Graham has said Cruz is not his first choice, but is the strongest alternative to Donald Trump and a firm friend of the state of Israel. He will headline a fundraiser for Cruz on Monday in Washington, D.C., the same day Cruz will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Graham told CNN on Thursday:
I think he’s the best alternative to Donald Trump. He’s certainly not my preference — Senator Cruz is not — but he’s a reliable Republican conservative, with whom I’ve had many differences. I doubt Donald Trump’s conservatism and I think he’d be a disaster for the party, so I’m going to help raise money for Senator Cruz in the pro-Israel community.
Graham went on to say of Mr. Trump, “I don’t think he’s a Republican, I don’t think he’s conservative, I think his campaign’s built on xenophobia, race-baiting, and religious bigotry.” These comments echoed Cruz’s own attacks on the real estate tycoon, who previously gave money to Democrats like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and who has switched his position on numerous issues.
Graham’s backing of Cruz as the alternative to Trump plays into the Cruz campaign’s arguments that only the Texas senator can beat Trump in the primary. Graham himself acknowledged that he thinks John Kasich would be a stronger general election candidate, but does not think the Ohio governor can win the primary.
On specific issues, Graham publicly declared his faith in Cruz as a reliable partner for Israel, as a supporter for the Keystone XL pipeline extension, as one who would repeal and replace Obamacare, and as a president who would nominate a true conservative to the Supreme Court. The South Carolina senator insisted that these issues are important enough to cause Graham to support Cruz, despite his past public vitriol for the Texas senator.
Next Page: Graham’s Hatred For Cruz — Even Hinted at Murdering the Texas Senator
That vitriol is strong. Not two months ago, Graham declared that choosing between Trump and Cruz would be akin to choosing between “being shot or poisoned.” He also said, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
Nevertheless, Graham is the second U.S. senator to back Cruz, although he could not be more different than Utah Senator Mike Lee, another Tea Party conservative firebrand.
Graham is the second former presidential candidate to back Cruz, after Carly Fiorina. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard endorsed Cruz earlier this month. Graham had hinted at supporting the Texas senator before, but with Monday’s fundraiser he has made it official.