Lindsey Graham Goes Full On #NeverTrump

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks with local residents during a campaign stop at the Wapello GOP Headquarters, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Ottumwa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Updated at 2:52 PM ET

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Friday that he will not support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, but that he also refuses to support Hillary Clinton.

“As for me, I absolutely will not support Hillary Clinton for President. She represents the third term of Barack Obama, and our nation cannot afford to continue those failed policies at home or abroad,” he said in a Friday afternoon statement. “I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.”

Graham elaborated on his refusal to get behind Trump as the nominee in a Friday interview on CNN, describing an election between Clinton and Trump as a “race to the bottom.”

“He lost me when he said my friend John McCain was a loser because he was captured as a P.O.W. He lost me when he accused George W. Bush of lying to the American people about the Iraq War. And he thinks Putin’s a good guy,” Graham said. “So I just can’t go there. I respect people who can. And to Donald Trump, congratulations, you did a hell of a thing. You beat me and everybody else. I just really believe that the Republican party has been conned here.”

The senator also cited Trump’s penchant for conspiracy theories as a reason he won’t be supporting the real estate mogul’s presidential nominee.

“I’ve got a hard time supporting somebody for president who spent thousands of dollars of their own money trying to find out if President Obama was born in Kenya versus Hawaii. I think that’s crazy. I’m just glad we’re having the convention in Cleveland, not Area 51,” he said. “I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”

He added that he might consider backing Trump if he says “that Ted Cruz’s dad had nothing to do with killing president Kennedy.”

Graham indicated that Trump’s place at the top of the ticket could hurt the Republican party in November, referencing Trump’s taco bowl tweet published on Cinco de Mayo.

“Eating a taco is probably not going to fix the problems we have with Hispanics. I think embracing Donald Trump is embracing demographic death,” he said.

Graham ruled out launching his own third party bid for the presidency and said he would “advise people not to go down that road.”

Instead, Graham said that he will focus on helping his Republican colleagues up for re-election in November. Graham said that Trump has “united the party around the idea that we need to all vote to protect the Republican majorities in the House and the Senate.”

“If there was ever a time for the country to have conservative leadership in the House and the Senate it will be in 2017 because no matter who wins the president [sic], Clinton or Trump, we’re gonna need some rational people up there putting the brakes on some of these very bad ideas,” he said.

Graham has been one of Trump’s loudest critics throughout the Republican presidential primary. On Sunday, Graham said, “Lucifer may be the only person Trump could beat in a general election.” He’s also called Trump a “loser” and a “nut job.”

The South Carolina senator also said on Friday that he will skip the July Republican convention.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: