Reports conflicted as to whether Sen. Lindsey Graham — arduously the loudest critic of Donald Trump from within elected GOP leadership — really did ask a group of donors to unite behind the presumptive nominee:
Teresa Dailey, a prominent Florida Republican fundraiser and Trump supporter who attended the private event, told CNN on Sunday that Graham called on Republicans to unite as a party and support the presumptive GOP nominee to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
“He did say that we need to get behind him,” Dailey said Sunday.
Graham on Monday disputed that characterization of his remarks, telling CNN that he is supporting neither Trump nor Clinton and that “nothing’s changed.”
Dailey acknowledged Monday that Graham did not specifically call on Republicans to “get behind Donald Trump, exactly,” but that “we need to get behind the party and support the party and do what we need to do to raise the funds necessary to make sure that Donald J. Trump is our next president of the United States.”
Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop repeatedly declined opportunities Sunday to characterize Graham’s comments, simply confirming that Graham doesn’t support a third-party run that some conservatives are working to organize and that Graham’s position on the presidential race has not changed.
“There hasn’t been any change in his position,” Bishop said. “He’s been pretty upfront and outspoken.”
We take Sen. Graham at his word, and hope he continues to stand aside as other Republicans begin to capitulate by either directly endorsing Trump, or saying they will vote for “the Republican nominee” despite his undeniable escalation towards violence.
Since Trump’s Presidential campaign announcement last June, Sen. Graham has repeatedly warned about the dangers Trump poses not only to the Republican Party, but America as a whole:
- July 2015: “I think [Donald Trump is] uninformed about the situation regarding the illegal immigrant population. I think he has hijacked the debate. I think he is a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back.”
- August 2015: “Well, Donald Trump’s plan on immigration is stupid. I find him offensive. His solution is just constitutionally flawed. It’s not practical. I don’t think there’s 10 votes in the United States Senate for this plan. I promise you no Democrat’s going to vote for this, I certainly wouldn’t vote for it. You’re not going to get 11 million people out of this country. That’s just not practical, that’s going to kill the Republican Party. It’s self-deportation on steroids.”
- September 2015: “I think the wall Donald Trump is building is between us and Hispanics.”
- December 2015: A Trump nomination “would be an utter, complete and total disaster. If you’re a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot, you’re going to have a hard time being president of the United States, and you’re going to do irreparable damage to the party.”
- December 2015: “You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell. He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represents the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. … He’s the ISIL man of the year.”
- December 2015: “I believe Donald Trump is destroying the Republican chances to win an election that we can’t afford to lose. I believe we’re losing the Hispanic vote because they think we don’t like them…I believe Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party.”
- January 2016, on choosing between Trump or Cruz: “It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?”
- March 2016: “The bottom line is that I believe Donald Trump would be an absolute, utter disaster for the Republican Party, destroy conservatism as we know it. We’d get wiped out, and it would take generations to overcome a Trump candidacy. Here is why we’re losing the Hispanic vote. Nobody is going to listen to you about your economic plan or your ability to defend the nation if you’re going to deport their grandmother. This is why we’re getting killed with Hispanics. And Mr. Trump has taken every problem we have had with Hispanics and poured gasoline on it.
- March 2016: “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. 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.”
- April 2016, on running as Trump’s VP: “That’s like buying a ticket on the Titanic.”
- May 2016: “When it comes to women and Hispanics, Trump polls like Lucifer.”
- May 2016: “I…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. I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him. Eating a taco is probably not going to fix the problems we have with Hispanics. I think embracing Donald Trump is embracing demographic death.”
Still, when reports first surfaced that Graham may be secretly backing Trump they were believable, because so many other Republicans are uniting behind their party’s front runner no matter what.
It’s a matter of putting party over country. With the attention Lindsay Graham has received this week, at least he knows we’re watching to see which one he chooses.