South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham didn't pull any punches when talking about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in a frank radio interview on Tuesday. Graham, who last week endorsed Jeb Bush's candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, called Trump "beyond crazy" and said Cruz's tactics in the Senate hurt the Republican Party.
Graham's sharpest indictment of both candidates: Hillary Clinton would beat them handily.
Asked on Kilmeade and Friends about the possibility of a Trump nomination, Graham said, "I can just tell you this: That means Hillary Clinton is president." He added that a Trump–Clinton race would not even be close, and called Trump "beyond crazy."
"Insane — on foreign policy, he has no idea what he is talking about. His domestic agenda is a bunch of gibberish," Graham said. "He is saying things that have no chance of becoming reality. He has an 81% disapproval rating with Hispanics."
"So if you want to make Hillary Clinton president, elect Donald Trump," Graham said. "His numbers with young women are terrible; he has through the roof negatives with Hispanics. We'll get creamed, in my view."
Asked for his take on the feud between Trump and Cruz that has been brewing in recent weeks, Graham called it a distraction. He then unloaded on the Texas senator, saying Cruz wasn't mature enough to be president and labeling him the "least respected" person in the Senate.
"Number one, Ted Cruz was born in Canada. I have no doubt he is eligible to run for president of the United States. I have no doubt that he would be an ideologue in the eyes of most Americans. He has been a senator, he has been the most disruptive influence in the Senate, he hasn't passed anything meaningful. His idea to shut down the entire government to get Barack Obama to repeal Obamacare made no sense to me. It hurt the Republican Party."
Pressed by host Brian Kilmeade if Cruz was just standing on principle on Obamacare, Graham shot back, "No, I think what he did he stood up for Ted and threw the Republican Party under the bus."
Graham went further, calling his plan to shutdown the government "stupid" and solely for fundraising.
"Ted's idea of shutting the government down to get Barack Obama to sign a bill that would repeal his signature issue was stupid. He used it to raise money; it hurt the Republican Party — and here is what I hate most about what he did — he accused me and others who disagreed with the tactic of being for Obamacare. "
"Remember the Sandy Hook shooting when those kids were killed? He was going to filibuster a debate on gun control," continued Graham. "We won every vote on the floor. The worst thing the Republican Party could have done is to say after Sandy Hook we don't want a debate. No, I don't think he is ready to be president. I don't think he is mature enough. I think he is all over the board on foreign policy. He is more of a Libertarian than he is a Ronald Reagan conservative. He changes with the wind. I don't dislike Ted as a person but they will cream him — almost anybody else could win."
Graham said Cruz tries to get ahead at the expense of others.
"I don't dislike him; I think he is the least respected," said Graham. "I think what he does is get ahead at other people's expense. When he accused me of being for Obamacare because I did not agree with his tactics of repealing Obamacare, that was very offensive. I have never been for Obamacare, but I had people in South Carolina saying, 'Why are you voting for Obamacare?' I said, 'What are you talking about?' 'Well, you weren't with Cruz.'"
"You know it really pissed me off," he said. "It's OK to disagree on tactics, but to accuse your colleague of being for Obamacare, when you know they are not, because they don't agree with your tactics, is a bridge too far for me. He does not have the ability to pull this country together. When you talk about problem solver, you can't mention Ted Cruz."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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