- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday that the positions of Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio on immigration and abortion could come back to bite Republicans in the general presidential election contest.

Mr. Graham said Mr. Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses Monday, would have a “one in 10” chance of winning a general election against the Democratic presidential candidate.

“The problem we have as Republicans is that we’re losing the largest and fastest-growing demographic, Hispanics, and when you ask them after 2012 why they don’t like the Republican party, it’s the immigration issue and the way we handled it,” Mr. Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“So Ted was for legalization no matter what he tells you, and now he says he wasn’t, so he’s going further right on immigration,” Mr. Graham said. “He doesn’t have an exception for rape and incest. If a woman is raped in Ted Cruz’s world, she’s going to have the baby of the rapist. I’m pro-life, but I won’t go there.”

“I think that’s hard to sell with young women. I think his position on immigration is completely out of sync with where the party needs to be, and he’ll get creamed,” Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Graham, who suspended his own presidential bid in December and endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush last month, also said the only person who would do worse than Mr. Cruz is businessman Donald Trump, who finished second in Iowa on Monday.

“And if you vote for Trump as a Republican, you’re buying a ticket on the Titanic after you saw the movie — don’t do that,” Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Graham said he likes Mr. Rubio, who placed third in Iowa, but that the Florida senator has now turned “hard right” and is abandoning the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration bill the two of them worked on together.

“In the last debate, he sounded more like Cruz on immigration. That’s very disappointing because that will come back to bite us as a party,” Mr. Graham said.

“And Marco has no exceptions for rape and incest,” Mr. Graham said. “I may be wrong and I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s going to be very hard to grow the party among women if you’re going to tell young women if you get raped, you got to carry the child of the rapist. Most pro-life people don’t go there. That will not sell in New Hampshire.”

Mr. Graham said Mr. Rubio has been very good on foreign policy for the most part and that he has a world view Mr. Graham shares.

“But let me just say this: immigration haunts this party,” Mr. Graham said. “He tried to fix a broken immigration system in a rational way; now he has backed off. To think that’s not going to matter in the general election, you’re kidding yourself.”

“And again, I hope I’m wrong about the abortion issue — it’s going to be hard to sell to young women Marco’s position on abortion,” he said. “I don’t know how this movie ends, but I know with women and Hispanics that we’re going in the wrong direction in my view, and Jeb Bush will beat Hillary Clinton, and I think he’s becoming the only person, quite frankly, that can beat Hillary Clinton.”

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