Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Monday called businessman Donald Trump a “Michael Moore Republican” after the New York billionaire charged over the weekend that former President George W. Bush “lied” to the nation before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
In Saturday’s debate, Mr. Trump said something that few Republicans have muttered before him: The Bush administration said there were weapons of mass destruction, but “they knew there were none.”
Mr. Trump also pushed back against the long-held GOP argument that Mr. Bush made the country more safe, saying the World Trade Center “came down” on his watch during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Mr. Graham, who dropped out of the race late last year and is supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s bid, said that “very few” South Carolina Republicans that will head to the polls this week for the first-in-the-south primary “think W is a liar.”
“So what happened in South Carolina is that we saw the Michael Moore Republican candidate emerge who is basically embracing nutjob views toward the world, and I hope this will take a toll over time because we cannot win the White House with somebody who believes that George W. Bush intentionally lied to the American people and that he was responsible for 9/11 on top of all the other things [Mr. Trump] said,” Mr. Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Mr. Trump is leading polls in South Carolina by a 37 percent to 17 percent margin over his closest rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. They are followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 14.3 percent; Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 10.5 percent; Mr. Bush, 10 percent; and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 4.5 percent.
In Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, Mr. Trump described the Iraq War as a “big fat mistake.”
“George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East,” he said.