Lindsey Graham wants to harness Trump magic: He can make GOP bigger, stronger… or ‘he can destroy it’

Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C., continues to stand alongside former President Donald Trump, suggesting that Trump has the “magic” to make the Republican Party bigger, or “he can destroy it.”

In an interview with “Axios on HBO,” the senator said Trump produced a “movement that I think is good for the country” and that he wants to “make a go of it.”

“Mitt Romney didn’t do it. John McCain didn’t do it. There’s something about Trump. There’s a dark side and there’s some magic there,” Graham said. “What I am trying to do is harness the magic.”

Characterizing Trump as “a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and P.T. Barnum,” Graham insisted that he still considers him a friend despite events on Jan. 6, which he is ready to move on from.

“Donald Trump was my friend before the riot. And I’m trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot,” he said. “I still consider him a friend. What happened was a dark day in American history, and we’re going to move forward.”

“I want us to continue the policies that I think will make America strong,” Graham added. “I believe the best way for the Republican Party to do that is with Trump, not without Trump.”

Host Jonathan Swan was quick to note that Trump had not shown any “remorse” — apparently he did get the memo that the former president was acquitted by the U.S. Senate — and that he’s “still telling everybody that he won” the election.

“Yeah, and I tell him every day that he wants to listen that I think the main reason he probably lost in Arizona is beating on the dead guy called John McCain,” the senator replied.

Asked if he could have won reelection without Trump’s support, Graham pointed out that the election is over and there’s nothing stopping him from throwing Trump under the bus now.

It was then that the GOP lawmaker spoke about the Trump movement.

“To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and P.T. Barnum,” Graham said.

As he observed, the Trump phenomenon is “just this bigger than life deal.”

“He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know could make it,” Graham said. “He could make it bigger; he could make it stronger; he could make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it.”

After the storming of the Capitol, Graham took to the floor of the Senate to denounce the effort to challenge Congress’s approval of the 2020 Electoral College results.

“Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey,” he explained. “I hate it being this way. Oh my god I hate it … but today all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. I tried to be helpful.”

Graham did say immediately after the election that Trump “should not concede,” and that he should challenge the results in a number of key swing states where the margin was tight — but by January, those challenges had failed to get support from the courts.

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Tom Tillison

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