Lindsey Graham gets it right
Lindsey Graham is in a full-fledged panic mode as excoriates Donald Trump for the imminent destruction of the Republican Party - Justified concerns. Graham did not mince words in his recent interview on Face the Nation.
The text/transcript follows:
John Dickerson: You once said that choosing between Trump and Cruz is like the difference between being shot or poisoned. So, how is your health?
Lindsey Graham: Well, you can -- maybe they will find an antidote to poisoning. It's hard once you're shot to get over it.
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.
Ronald Reagan had the three-legged stool of conservative, fiscal, social, and strong national security. Donald Trump has a four-legged stool because he's the Donald. It's got to be bigger.
Economic populism, xenophobia, race-baiting, and religious bigotry are the stool that he has formed. That is his campaign. That is not conservatism. Ted Cruz, in my view, is a real Republican who I often disagree with. I'm supporting Ted because I think he's the best alternative to Donald Trump.
John Kasich is the most electable Republican. I don't know he has a chance to win at the convention, because it's an outsider year, and John Kasich is an insider, and most of the delegates are looking for an outsider. I love John Kasich, but if he stays in this race, or they don't coordinate the efforts between Cruz and Kasich, we're going to wind up giving the nomination to Trump.
John Dickerson: You say it's an outsider year. And your description of Trump's campaign, it's a very popular campaign. People are turning up to his rallies. He's getting the votes.
Lindsey Graham: Yes, 35 to 40 percent is probably where he's going to be.
A lot of people believe that illegal immigration is a real problem. He's playing on their fears. He says most of them are rapists and drug dealers. They're not.
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.
I'm in the party of family values. And I like that. There are 11 million illegal immigrants; 60 percent have been here a decade. Many of them have American children, American citizen children and grandchildren. What do you think is going to happen to my Republican friends if our position is that we're going to take the grandmother of an American citizen, member of the military who is illegal?
How do we get that person to vote for us if we're going to deport their grandmother, when all she's done is violate the immigration laws?
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. John Dickerson: What do you think? What is the gap between the Republicans who share your view, or some of them, and would like to stop Donald Trump...
Lindsey Graham: Right.
John Dickerson: ... and say that privately -- what is the gap between what they say privately and what they're willing to do publicly?
Lindsey Graham: We're a divided party. We have got a lot of angry people in our base who have been told things by Senator Cruz and others that we could more than we actually could do.
The country is in a mess. I can understand being frustrated with illegal immigration. But you're not going to fix it by having a position like Mr. Trump that has no chance of getting through the Senate.
John Dickerson: But what I'm asking is, how many people do you have behind you to really stop Donald Trump? Because, right now, he's rolling on past all these efforts to try and stop...
Lindsey Graham: Sixty-five percent of the Republican Party would like to vote for somebody other than Donald Trump.
We're about to nominate the one person that not only would lose in 2016, but would destroy the party for decades to come. I would rather lose without Trump than try to win with him. And if he wants to lead the party, lead.
John Dickerson: So, you won't vote for him if he's the nominee?
Lindsey Graham: Ask me after the convention that question.
But I'm making it pretty clear to you that I think Mr. Trump destroys the party that I love. As much as I disagree with Ted Cruz, I think he's a real Republican. He would nominate conservative judges. He will not sell Israel out. He's a reliable Republican conservative. Mr. Trump is an interloper and what -- a demagogue of the greatest proportion.
John Dickerson: You signed a pledge, though, so you would be willing to break that pledge?
Lindsey Graham: Well, I'm out of the race now.
John Dickerson: Yes.
Lindsey Graham: And here's what I want Republicans to do.
We can lose an election, but I don't want us to lose our heart and soul. If we nominate Donald Trump, and he carries the banner of the Republican Party, given who he is and what he said about immigrants, about Muslims and young women, we will not just lose the election. We have lost the heart and soul of the conservative movement. That's what is at stake. And I hope John Kasich is listening.
John, if I thought you could win, I would be behind you, because you are the most electable candidate. Work with Ted to deny Trump 1,237 or 1,239, or whatever the number is. And if you're not willing to work with Ted, then you're hurting the cause. By Kasich going to Utah, you're making it harder for Ted to get 50 percent.
John Dickerson: You have got to speak later today about the future of the Middle East. Which is more complicated, future of the Middle East or the Republican Party?
Lindsey Graham: There's a pathway forward in the Mideast. I don't see one right now for the Republican Party.
In all seriousness, there are lot of issues that the country will be dealing with in the future. How do you bring the broken and divided country together? Is Mr. Trump the answer to the problems in the Mideast? His foreign policy is gibberish. The Mideast is a mess. The Republican Party is at a tipping point here.
We're going down one of two roads, the Trump road, which is the destruction of conservatism. We're going to reevaluate and go down a road a little more optimistic. And I think Ted Cruz and John Kasich represent that path. But the Mideast politics to me seem to be less of mess right now than Republican Party. And that is saying a hell of a lot.