- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2016

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that his party will probably lose the presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton no matter who gets the nomination, but stopping Donald Trump would at least “salvage a party that I love.”

“If Trump is the standard bearer, it’s not about 2016. It’s about losing the heart and soul of the conservative movement,” Mr. Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Graham dropped out of the presidential race and reluctantly threw his support behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has become the GOP establishment’s go-to candidate to stop the front-running Mr. Trump.

He said Mr. Cruz was the only candidate who had a “fighting chance” of beating Mrs. Clinton in the general election.

“Here’s my concern: We can lose in 2016, and we probably will,” he said. “Trump gets wiped out. Ted makes it competitive. I don’t know if he can beat her or not, but at least we’ll have a fighting chance.”

The South Carolina senator said that Mr. Trump and his harsh rhetoric would lose women and Hispanic voters in the election, possibility driving them from the Republican Party for years to come.

He also faulted Mr. Trump for appealing to people such as David Duke, a former Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan who said he supports some of Mr. Trump’s agenda.

“I’m not going to stand behind a guy that gets David Duke’s support. What is it about Trump’s campaign that David Duke likes,” Mr. Graham said. “I don’t think he is a reliable conservative Republican. So it is no longer about winning the election for me. It is about trying to salvage a party that I love and conservatism as I know it.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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