Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may now be one of President Donald Trump’s biggest enablers — behind only, say, Mitch McConnell — but it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, in case you’ve forgotten, during the 2016 presidential primaries, Graham was an outspoken detractor of the former Celebrity Apprentice host, and he did not sugarcoat his feelings when it came to Trump.
Case in point: The Daily Show recently dredged up an old throwback clip of an interview with Graham on March 23, 2016, just about seven months shy of Election Day. At the time, Graham was throwing his support behind Ted Cruz. When asked by host Trevor Noah what about Cruz appealed to him, the then-close personal friend of John McCain turned his vitriol towards the outlier candidate.
“Uh, that he’s not Trump,” Graham deadpanned. “If Donald Trump carries the banner of my party, I think it taints conservatism for generations to come,” the Senator accurately predicted. “I think his campaign is opportunistic, race-baiting, religious bigotry, xenophobia … other than that, he’d be a good nominee,” he quipped.
Yes, what did happen to Lindsey Graham, exactly?
Fast forward to 2019 (or, just after the inauguration in 2017, if we’re being completely honest) and Graham couldn’t be more on Team Trump. It didn’t take long for him to learn that by kissing the ring he’d get so many of the things he’d ever dreamed of, not to mention popularity in his home state of South Carolina with a reelection campaign on the horizon in 2020.
To little surprise, Graham’s former statement came in stark contrast to when, just last week, he was asked to comment on Trump’s racist remarks about how Somali-American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), as well as American born citizens Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), should “go back to where they came from.”
“No, I don’t think it’s racist to say … Was it racist to say ‘love it or leave it?'” Graham responded. “I don’t think a Somali refugee embracing Trump would not have been asked to go back. If you’re a racist, you want everybody from Somalia to go back cause they’re black or they’re Muslim. That’s not what this is about to me. What this is about to me, is that these four congresswomen in their own way, have been incredibly provocative.”
Provocative! What a word that would … never, ever be used to describe a man in Congress. “If you think he’s a racist that’s up to you, I don’t,” Graham shot back when pressed.
As the Daily Show clip began going viral, others likewise began wondering what exactly happened to Lindsey Graham.
Whatever the case, hope that 2020 Senate endorsement is worth your soul, Lindsey.