Graham, cut from debates, offers views on Trump, Syria

Donald Trump makes a point during the Republican presidential debate Tuesday.
Donald Trump makes a point during the Republican presidential debate Tuesday. AP

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s poll numbers were too low to qualify him for Tuesday’s Republican debates, so Wednesday, he offered his own take on the Milwaukee events.

On real estate mogul Donald Trump, who talked policy Tuesday: “This is Donald on Valium. I don't like this at all,” Graham, R-S.C., said.

He was speaking from New Hampshire on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Graham is banking heavily on the state’s voters to give him a boost, but the latest Monmouth University poll had him tied for 11th place with less than 1 percent. Trump has a strong lead.

Graham’s chief beef with the debate was “The one thing I did not hear last night was a plan to destroy ISIL.” He compared terrorist tactics to Nazi tactics.

“These people are religious Nazis. Would you have said that about the Nazis? Do you believe they're worse than the Nazis, equal to the Nazis, or not as bad as the Nazis? I think they're equal to the Nazis, in many ways worse,” Graham said. “They want a master religion for the world. The Nazis wanted a master race. The wake-up call is coming. They're coming here if we don't stop them there. This is a religious war.”

He criticized Trump, saying he has “got a bad deal in the making. He’s willing to leave (Syrian President Bashar) Assad in power, which gives Syria a run. I’m never willing to do that. Nobody embraced the idea of how you destroy these guys on the ground. A no-fly zone is a good start, but when will our people realize that you can't destroy ISIL from the air and America has to be on the ground in Syria? If you don't realize that, you're not ready for this job.”

Trump explained Tuesday “Assad is a bad guy, but we have no idea who the so-called rebels -- I read about the rebels, nobody even knows who they are. I spoke to a general two weeks ago, he said -- he was very up on exactly what we're talking about. He said, ‘You know, Mr. Trump? We're giving hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment to these people, we have no idea who they are.’

“So, I don't like Assad,” Trump said. “Who's going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people, and what they're going to be, and what they're going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad.”

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid