Donald Trump didn’t pull any punches while attacking Lindsey Graham in a lengthy statement Friday, after the South Carolina senator and former 2016 GOP presidential hopeful announced that he wouldn’t be supporting his party’s presumptive nominee.
“I fully understand why Lindsey Graham cannot support me,” Trump wrote. “If I got beaten as badly as I beat him, and all the other candidates he endorsed, I would not be able to give my support either.”
Graham tweeted on Friday that it’s “hard to believe” the choice for president will be between Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Trump. He said that, although he would not support Clinton, he could not “in good conscience support” Trump “because I do not believe he is a reliable conservative.” He added that he doesn’t trust Trump’s judgment or temperament.
Trump’s statement read, in part: “Every time I see Lindsey Graham spew hate during interviews I ask why the media never questions how I single-handily destroyed his hapless run for President. As a candidate who did not receive 1% in his own state – compared to my victory at nearly 40% with many others in the race – he has zero credibility.”
Trump also called Graham a “poor representative” and an “embarrassment” to South Carolina.
“Judging by the incompetent way he ran his campaign, it is easy to see why his military strategies have failed so badly — we can’t even beat ISIS!” Trump continued. “While I will unify the party, Lindsey Graham has shown himself to be beyond rehabilitation. And like the voters who rejected him, so will I!”
Trump saw another round of defections from Republican leaders on Friday, the day after House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he was “not ready” to support him. Other big-name Republicans, such as former 2016 contender and ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, joined Graham in saying they would not be voting for Trump.
“I won’t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say he’s low energy,” Trump said later at a rally in Nebraska.
Graham said Trump lost him when he ridiculed Sen. John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War and for accusing President George W. Bush of lying about the Iraq War.
“I just can’t go there,” he said during a CNN interview on Friday. “I respect people who can. And to Donald Trump, congratulations, you did a hell of a thing. You beat me and everybody else. I just really believe that the Republican Party has been conned here.”
The South Carolina senator added that Trump’s propping up of fringe theories – such as his prominent role in questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace in 2011 – played a part in why he won’t support the presumptive nominee.
“I’ve got a hard time supporting somebody for president who spent thousands of dollars of their own money trying to find out if President Obama was born in Kenya vs. Hawaii,” he said. “I think that’s crazy.”
“I’m just glad we’re having the convention in Cleveland, not Area 51,” he continued. “I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone, and I’m not going with him.”