Sounding resigned to the lesser of two evils, Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday said he would help Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in every way he can if it means stopping Donald Trump.
“I think Mr. Trump is not a Republican, I think he’s not a conservative, I think his campaign’s built on xenophobia, race-baiting and religious bigotry, I think he’d be a disaster for our party and as Senator Cruz would not be my first choice, I think he is a Republican conservative who I could support,” the South Carolina Republican told CNN’s Dana Bash, who joked “I’m actually waiting for pigs to start flying down the street.”
I'm going to help Ted in every way I can.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
It’s a sign of how desperate many Republicans are to stop their own front-runner, who swept three more states in Tuesday’s primaries. Graham has been very open about his disdain for the Texas senator, famously comparing the choice between Trump and Cruz to “being shot or poisoned” and joking about his unpopularity in the Senate.
“He’s certainly not my preference, but he’s a reliable Republican conservative,” he said on Thursday. “I doubt Donald Trump’s conservatism, I think he’d be a disaster for the party, so I’m going to try to raise money for Senator Cruz in the pro-Israel community.”
Graham will host a fundraiser on Monday during an American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, according to CNN. He is the second senator to pledge his support to Cruz, who picked up his first Senate endorsement from Utah Sen. Mike Lee last week.
Graham originally endorsed Jeb Bush after ending his own bid for the Republican nomination in December, campaigning with him ahead of his home state’s February primary.
691 Number of delegates Donald Trump has of March 17, compared to 422 for Ted Cruz
While he would prefer Kasich, Cruz is the only one left to stop Trump, he said.
“John Kasich I think is the most viable general election candidate, I just don’t see how John gets through the primary. This is an outsider year, he’s seen as an insider, so I think the best alternative to Donald Trump, to stop him from getting 1,237 [delegates] is Ted Cruz,” Graham said.
He echoed the somewhat lukewarm tone of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who informally endorsed Cruz on Wednesday after her original pick, Marco Rubio, dropped out of the race after losing his home state of Florida to the business mogul.
After Tuesday’s primaries, Trump leads with 691 delegates. Cruz has won 422, and John Kasich has won 145.