South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham today pledged to help Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz “in every way I can,” calling the Texas senator the best alternative to GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“I'm going to raise money for him in the pro-Israel community,” Graham said in an interview with CNN, adding, “If I were in one of the states coming up, in terms of voting and I didn't like Trump, I would vote for Cruz.”
Graham, who mounted a failed presidential bid, said Trump is neither a Republican nor a conservative.
“I think his campaign is built on xenophobia, race baiting and religious bigotry,” he said, “and I think Senator Cruz is a conservative who I can support.”
Graham plans to host a fundraiser for Cruz Monday, according to the Texas senator’s presidential campaign.
“We are thankful that Sen. Graham is hosting a fundraiser and supporting Ted,” Alice Stewart, the Cruz campaign’s communications director, said in a statement.
Graham acknowledged in the CNN interview that his support for Cruz might come as a surprise to some, given his past criticism of his Senate colleague.
“If you nominate Trump and Cruz, I think you get the same outcome,” Graham said, according to The New York Times. “Whether it’s death by being shot or poisoning doesn’t really matter. I don’t think the outcome will be substantially different.”
He even went as far as to say in an interview with CNN in February that Cruz is "just as wrong as Obama, if not worse” on foreign policy.
Graham, a war hawk in the fight against ISIS, also said in a December interview on RealClearRadio that Cruz “has no credibility in my eyes when it comes to understanding how to defeat ISIL.”
And at the annual Washington Press Club Foundation dinner in February, Graham joked that if you killed Cruz on the floor of the Senate, “nobody would convict you.”
But ever since Trump’s victories in the Super Tuesday primaries earlier this month, Graham has been hinting at a change of mind, if not heart.
"Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means,” he said in a recent interview with CBS News, but added, “We may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump.”
Graham told CNN today that his decision “tells you a lot about where we are as a party.”