Lindsey Graham is now the first former GOP presidential candidate to back one of his old rivals: the senator from South Carolina endorsed Jeb Bush this morning in North Charleston, the site of Thursday night’s Republican debates.
Graham, who was the GOP field’s most notable (and sometimes most hilarious) foreign policy hawk, said Bush was the right candidate to keep the country safe. “I have concluded without any hesitation, without any doubt, that Jeb Bush is ready on day one to be commander-in-chief,” he said. He also praised Bush for pushing back against other candidates who attacked Islam and Muslim Americans, another one of Graham’s pet themes during the debates.
The Bush campaign and Graham both seem to think South Carolina can “reset this race,” as Graham said during his endorsement. If Bush can survive Iowa and do well in New Hampshire, a win in South Carolina would give him a plausible chance of emerging as the mythical GOP mainstream consensus candidates. And, as the Washington Post pointed out, “Graham is a savvy pol, a talented spokesman with a real statewide organization.”
Of course, this probably actually means nothing. Graham never broke out of the GOP undercard debates or the low single digits in national polls. And while Bush was already the runaway leader of the endorsement primary, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming an afterthought among GOP primary voters. The Post noted that Bush needs “all the help he can get at the moment”—even if that’s not much at all.