Lindsey Graham says Trump dominates GOP and hopes he’ll run in 2024: ‘It’s his party, it’s not the centre’s party’

Senator famously declared he was done with former president after Capitol riot

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 26 January 2022 19:56
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Lindsey Graham slams GOP colleagues for not having 'working relationship' with Trump

Sen Lindsey Graham has gone full circle in less than a year and is now one of the staunchest supporters of ex-President Donald Trump seeking a second White House term in 2024, he told Fox News Radio on Monday.

The South Carolina Republican who famously declared “count me out” in the hours after the Capitol riot, when Mr Trump’s supporters attacked Congress and attempted to stop the 2020 election from being certified, has returned to his position within the inner circle of Trump acolytes and was once again on the golf course with the former president over the weekend.

He told Fox’s Brian Kilmeade on Monday that he spent the “whole weekend” with Mr Trump, and declared that the former president retains total control over the Republican Party.

“[I]t's his party. It's not the centre's party. It's not Lindsey Graham's party,” said the senator, before making a prediction about the 2024 Republican presidential primary that will likely dismay some GOP hopefuls like Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, and Gov Ron DeSantis of Florida.

“He will be the nominee in 2024 if he wants it. Stay tuned,” said Mr Graham. He added: “From my point of view, there's nobody that's going to beat Donald Trump if he wants to run.”

Mr Graham also called Mr Trump a “damn good president”, seemingly having forgiven him completely for the assault on the Capitol, and claimed that independent voters would forgive the former president as well. Independent voters “now see Trump differently after this debacle with Biden”, he said.

He predicted that Mr Trump would wait until the 2022 midterms conclude before announcing his bid for the White House, while adding that “[t]here's going to be some efforts here fairly soon to urge President to be more forceful about running.”

“I don't think he's going to announce until after the midterms, but I'm very confident that the Republican Party would take Donald Trump to be their nominee,” said Mr Graham.

Mr Graham has remained close to the former president since just weeks after Mr Trump left office; he has dropped his previous support for Mr Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and urged his fellow Republicans to do so as well after the riot, but has been adamant that any GOP leaders in the House and Senate need to have a “working relationship” with the former president and stated that the GOP will go nowhere without the 45th president for the time being.

“[T]here is no way we can achieve our goals without Trump,” he said in February 2021, one month after the riot.

Speculation over whether Mr Trump will run for office again has remained high; he has publicly and privately expressed interest in doing so, but he remains dogged by the Capitol riot investigation as well as a new criminal probe in Georgia into his efforts to persuade state officials to overturn his election defeat. The Trump Organization, run by his adult children, also faces an investigation from the New York state attorney general’s office.

Amid the will-he-won’t-he talk a number of other GOP hopefuls have arisen and begun laying the groundwork for potential bids, such as former members of the Trump administration including Pompeo, Pence, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

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