Sen. Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb Bush for president

McClatchy News Service

Sen. Lindsey Graham endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president on Friday, the campaign confirmed.

The Seneca Republican dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 21, and most of his S.C. backers endorsed the son and brother of two presidents. George Bush and George W. Bush won the Palmetto State’s presidential primaries.

Graham said last week, in weighing whether to back a 2016 hopeful, that: “No. 1, will my endorsement matter? I’ve got to see what, if any, damage I have done to myself here at home.”

Bush needs a big push as voters begin soon to cast ballots next month. He is fifth in the national and most early primary state polls, including South Carolina, according to averages compiled by Real Clear Politics.

Graham’s announcement leaves two other top South Carolina Republicans, Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Nikki Haley, who have not endorsed a candidate.

Scott is expected to back Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

His friend, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, has campaigned with Rubio and spoke to reporters on the senator’s behalf in the spin room after the GOP debate in North Charleston on Thursday.

Haley has said she could endorse a White House hopeful before South Carolina’s Feb. 20 Republican presidential primary. She backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the eventual GOP presidential nominee, in 2012.