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Lindsey Graham won't support Donald Trump, refuses to attend GOP convention

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. Graham has announced Monday he is ending his bid for the GOP nomination. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham Friday said he wouldn't support Donald Trump -- the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee.

"It's hard to believe that in a nation of more than 300 million Americans Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be our choices for President," Graham said in his statement, which was re-posted to Twitter.

Graham said he wouldn't vote for either Trump or Clinton come November.

"Hillary Clinton represents the third term of Barack Obama & our nation cannot afford to continue those failed policies at home or abroad," Graham wrote. "I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief."

"I will enthusiastically support Republicans for other offices in South Carolina and throughout the country," he continued. "I will focus my time, energy and effort on raising resources and advocating for our Republican majorities in the House and Senate."

Graham joins a list of high-ranking Republican officials apparently dissatisfied with Republican voters' choice to lead them in November.

President George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and John McCain have in recent weeks said they would not be attending the Republican National Convention this summer in Ohio.

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The statement in full:

"It's hard to believe that in a nation of more than 300 million Americans Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be our choices for President.
"As for me, I absolutely will not support Hillary Clinton for President. She represents the third term of Barack Obama, and our nation cannot afford to continue those failed policies at home or abroad.
"I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.
"After the election, regardless of who wins the presidency I will do everything I can to help our new President deal with the many challenges facing our nation. The next President will inherit a mess and will need all the help they can get.
"I will enthusiastically support Republicans for other offices in South Carolina and throughout the country. I will focus my time, energy and effort on raising resources and advocating for our Republican majorities in the House and Senate. It is imperative that we have strong, reliable conservatives acting as a check and balance against excesses in government. I strongly encourage Republicans and Independents to vote even if you are disappointed in your choice for President.
"Finally, I do not plan to attend the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer."

House Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday also rebuffed Trump's nomination. Ryan said he was "not ready to support" Trump "right now."

"I want to be a part of helping him do that but I think there is some work to do here," Ryan said. "We need a standard bearer who can unite all wings of our party."

"I think it's possible. But we're not there right now," Ryan continued.

Trump later fired back that he wasn't ready to support Ryan's agenda.

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Speaking to CNN's Dana Bash Friday afternoon, Graham conceded that he "could be" an outlier for not pledging his support to Trump.

"I just don't believe that Donald Trump is a reliable conservative Republican," he reiterated. "I don't think he has the temperament and judgement to be command-in-chief.

"I would've support all sixteen, except for the Donald."

Graham said he lost faith in Trump after the billionaire businessman questioned Sen. John McCain's war record, insinuating McCain was "a loser" for being a prisoner of war. Graham added it would be "a step in the right direction" if Trump recanted his claims that Sen. Ted Cruz's father was in some way connected to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

"Unfortunately this is a race to the bottom in 2016. I just think we have a faster car," Graham said of the Republican nominee. "When it's over, I'm going to help President Trump or President Clinton. They're going to need all the help they can get."

Asked if the Republican party was broken, Graham told CNN "absolutely." But could it be repaired? "Absolutely."

"I think the best days of the Republican party are ahead of us," Graham said. "[But] eating a taco is probably not going to help ease the problems with have with Hispanics."

The jab was aimed at one of Trump's tweets in which he honored Cinco de Mayo by eating a taco made at Trump Tower Grill before explaining "I love Hispanics."



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