Graham: Backing Ted Cruz Isn’t About Winning The 2016 Election (VIDEO)

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March 24, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has started fundraising for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign, said on Thursday morning that his support for the Texas senator is not about winning the election, suggesting that he would rather Republicans lose the election than see Donald Trump win the nomination.

During an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Graham was asked if he was concerned that the Republican party could split into two wings.

“We’re already split. Here’s my concern, we can lose in 2016 and we probably will. Trump gets wiped out, Ted makes it competitive, I don’t know if he can beat [Hillary Clinton] or not, but at least we’ve got a fighting chance,” Graham said in response.

“If Trump is the standard bearer, it’s not about 2016, it’s about losing the heart and soul of the conservative movement. I’m not going to stand behind a guy that gets David Duke’s support. What is it about Trump’s campaign that David Duke likes? I don’t think he is a reliable conservative Republican,” Graham continued. “So it’s no longer about winning the election for me, it’s trying to salvage a party that I love and conservatism as I know it.”

Yet when asked if it mattered whether Republicans win the White House, Graham said it did.

“It matters a lot if we win,” noting that the next president will choose a Supreme Court justice and decided whether to appeal Obamacare.

The South Carolina senator acknowledged that he thought Ohio Gov. John Kasich would make for a better general election candidate, but he said that Cruz has the best chance to keep Trump from securing the Republican nomination.

Watch the interview via MSNBC:

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