S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb Bush
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announced he is backing Jeb Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, praising the former Florida governor's approach to national security.
"I have concluded without any hesitation, any doubt, that Jeb Bush is worthy to be commander-in-chief on day one," Graham said Friday at a joint press conference with Bush.
As South Carolina's senior senator, Graham has been a coveted endorsement for some candidates running for the Republican nomination because he holds clout among establishment Republicans in South Carolina, one of the critical early voting primary states. Bush was initially considered a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president, but his campaign eventually lagged behind candidates like Trump and Cruz, who have each positioned themselves as anti-establishment alternatives.
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Graham launched his own presidential campaign last summer, but dropped out of the race last month having mustered little support in the polls.
Graham noted that Bush was the lone candidate in Thursday's debate to explicitly reject Trump's continued call to indefinitely ban non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States.
"The thing I admire most about Jeb is that he has stayed true to who he is, that he hasn't tried to get ahead in a contested primary by embracing demagoguery," Graham said.
"Donald Trump will damage the ability to grow this party. He will get creamed with Hispanics and young women," Graham said. "Ted Cruz is an ideologue that has no ability, in my view, to bring the country together. So the top two guys, I think, would lose an election we can't afford to lose."
Graham, 60, singled out another former rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, as "great on national security" and predicted Florida's junior senator "will be president one day." But Graham said the 44-year-old isn't ready. "We're looking for the whole package here. At 44, I was not ready to be president of the United States."