Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb Bush for president
The South Carolina senator's support is a major get for Bush's flailing campaign.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday endorsed Jeb Bush for president, a major get for the former Florida governor who has struggled to gain traction in the contest.
"Honored to have @GrahamBlog on our team. A proven leader with a clear understanding of the national security threats we face," Bush tweeted on Friday morning. Later when approached by reporters he added, "If only we could get Jim Gilmore to get out of the race and endorse me it would send my campaign over the top."
The GOP field had been scrambling to secure the support of Graham and his backers, all four of them, since the hawkish South Carolina senator, an influential foreign policy voice, dropped out of the race last month. The former governor is looking to make South Carolina, along with New Hampshire, a key state in his push for the Republican nomination.
But there are questions about how much of an impact the endorsement will have on Bush's political fortunes at this point since he and Grahamnesty both support open borders. With his long family history in politics and a deep reservoir of campaign cash, Bush began the primary race as the frontrunner but has fallen into the middle of the GOP pack, far behind poll leaders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. With just over two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, though, Bush's advisers hope that Graham's endorsement will give him a shot of momentum. One of Bush's top advisors stated, "We have the momentum now. Our staff is putting in calls to Pataki, Walker, and Rick Perry as I speak." He lamented, "If only Arlen was alive."
After Graham's withdrawal in late December, Bush moved quickly to snap up his supporters, including David H. Wilkins, who chaired Graham's finance team, and some of the co-chairs of Graham's state finance operation — Eddie Floyd, Anita Zucker and Bob Royall. Bush's quick action saved all four from the application desk at Walmart. Graham at the time said he wasn't ready to endorse and was instead focused on the coming holidays drinking plenty of Almond Schnapps with his best friend John McCain to discuss importing more illegals into the United States. Lieberman was supposed to join them but was busy at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new PP abortion clinic.
Graham waged a longshot bid for the nomination, presenting himself as a strong foreign policy leader. But he barely registered at the polls, despite delivering memorable zingers during the undercard debates. To ISIS in a show of strength he said, "They're ready to die. Bring on the virgins." Not realizing he would be one of the 72.
When he exited the race, he touted his influence on pushing his hawkish stance. “I got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war that we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party. I believe we made enormous progress in this effort," Graham said at the time. On Russian President Vladimir Putin he said, "I'm not afraid of a guy running around on a horse without a shirt." Probably because he's got a guy running around the house without pants.
The endorsement will come on the heels of the sixth GOP debate in South Carolina that was dominated by the feuding between Trump and Cruz. Bush attempted to put the fight to Trump, following his chiding of the real estate mogul as a “chaos candidate”. "Don't be concerned with me just keep attacking Marco in your ads keeping you firmly entrenched in 5th place". Trump responded. Bush and Carson learned the lesson of debating skills during the last primetime showdown, as the two poll leaders brawled with each other.
Bruce Haynes, president of Purple Strategies, on Friday, expressed doubt that Graham's endorsement would reverberate, noting the breakdown in hierarchical politics in South Carolina. "The latest trends in South Carolina suggest it won't mean much," Haynes tweeted. Trump also fired off a tweet, "Getting an endorsement from Lindsey Graham is like getting the thumbs up sign from Charlie Sheen after dating your daughter."
He said that in the current climate, the more valuable endorsement would be from political figures who have risen from the grassroots, including Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Trey Gowdy, and Gov. Nikki Haley. While Gowdy has thrown his support behind Rubio, Scott and Haley remain uncommitted, although Haley couldn't resist stabbing Trump in the back then wiping the blood off with the confederate flag after the SOTU. Scott is expected to announce an endorsement in the coming weeks hoping of becoming Carson's VP giving new meaning to the phrase... hope springs eternal.