It’s been quite a long journey to undertake in just four months, going from one half of a choice between “being shot or poisoned” to the betting parlor favorite. Of all the second tier debate stage candidates from this cycle, Lindsey Graham was probably one of the most fierce attack dogs going after Donald Trump. It won’t take long for a Google search to turn up a bushel of quotes and clips where the South Carolina Senator described The Donald as everything up to and including the end of civilization as we know it. But now that the primary is in our rear view mirror, Lindsey Graham is making the rounds and urging GOP donors to get onboard the Trump Train. (CNN)
Graham urged GOP donors at a private fundraiser Saturday in Florida to unite behind Trump’s campaign and stressed the importance of keeping likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from the White House. The fundraiser was hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Al Hoffman, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman who also co-chaired Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.
“He did say that we need to get behind him,” Teresa Dailey, a prominent Florida Republican fundraiser who attended the private event, told CNN on Sunday.
Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop confirmed that Graham attended a fundraiser in Florida on Saturday.
Bishop would not confirm Graham’s remarks at the private event but said the senator has been clear that he doesn’t support a third-party run that some conservatives are working to organize.
Through his staff, Graham has confirmed that his criticism of Trump has been “wide and deep” over the course of the primary, but the frozen landscape of their relationship has been thawing of late. They had a phone call earlier this month to discuss foreign policy which he described as “cordial and pleasant.” Obviously, foreign policy is Graham’s major concern and was a cornerstone of his own primary bid.
I’d be curious to hear the details of that call (which we’re unlikely to ever find out) because it would be quite the feat to find some common ground for the two men. Graham is an unapologetic interventionist who supports chasing our enemies to the gates of hell using whatever elements of force are required to attain victory. For his part, Trump is something of a mystery on the foreign policy front. He’s been both for and against the Iraq War, depending when you asked him. He wants to crush ISIS by whatever means are required, but he’s tired of paying for the defense of other nations and believes we should be investing our military resources to take care of America first. He strikes me as being more than ready to throw down if it’s required, but he’s far from a hawk. (Personally, I can’t argue with that approach from the 10,000 foot level, but I remain unclear on the specifics of what he plans to do.)
The overall tone coming from Graham these days seems to be less a case of falling in love with Trump, and more one of accepting that the real enemy is Hillary Clinton. Graham is passing on a third party option as being likely to wind up in failure or at least containing far too much uncertainty. Given all of those factors, Trump is the available vehicle to make it over the finish line and Lindsey is ready to climb onboard.