Lindsey Graham to Trump: I'll beat your brains out in South Carolina

I get that he needs to show a little bravado about a state that’s elected him to the Senate three times but this is a weird boast to make when you realize that South Carolina is Trump’s strongest state so far among the early big three. He leads by single digits in Iowa and appears to be opening a wide lead in New Hampshire although two polls taken there over the last month still have him south of 25 percent. In SC, though, it’s all clear sailing so far: Not only did he hit 30 percent in today’s Monmouth poll, he topped 30 percent in the Gravis and Augusta Chronicle polls taken there over the past month. His closest competitor is Ben Carson, who’s pulling half of Trump’s total. That’s not supposed to happen in South Carolina. The early state that’s supposed to be open to quirky mavericks with a strong centrist stripe is New Hampshire. The early state where unpredictable things can happen because it’s a caucus and there are relatively few participants is Iowa. South Carolina’s supposed to be the winnower, where evangelicals and tea partiers trudge to the polls and select a staunch conservative to set on the path to the Republican nomination. As it is, Trump leads there by an average of nearly 20 points. And Lindsey Graham? In the last three polls there, he’s notched five, seven, and four points, respectively. Ted Cruz, the great conservative hope who’s supposedly going to be a force in the southern primaries, tallied three, four, and five points in those same polls. There is in fact some brain-beating happening in that state right now involving Lindsey Graham, but not the type he’s imagining.

And Trump knows it.

Graham’s retort:

“He is shallow. He is ill prepared to be commander in chief,” Graham said. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about or how our laws work. He says the worst things possible about immigrants and women. And he’s a complete idiot when it comes to Mideast policy.”…

“I think over time, common sense will prevail,” Graham said on CNN. “[Trump’s] a showman. He’s really good at that.”

Maybe Graham’s hinting that he plans to play kingmaker in SC by endorsing one of his competitors at the last second to tip the race? Imagine if it ends up being neck and neck there between Trump and Ted “Wacko Bird” Cruz, one of his pal McCain’s enemies in the Senate, and Grahamnesty has to choose.

The most interesting thing about this clip, actually, is how willing Graham is to dismiss Trump fans in their entirety as Birther-style cranks. That’s a … curious talking point for establishment Republicans who are going to need most of Trump’s 30 percent to turn out next fall for whoever ends up being the GOP nominee. Maybe we’ve already reached the point with Trumpmania where both sides realize the party’s coalition is irretrievably broken and that there’s no point in hiding their contempt for the other side anymore. If Trump fans want to hold what Graham says here against the wider GOP, oh well. They’re Trump fans. They hate the party anyway, by definition.

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