In a profile of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Washington Post, close associates of the GOP lawmaker state that he is going "all in" to continue to support former President Donald Trump and set himself up as the leader of the Trump wing of the party and that has some of them wondering what has happened to him.
While Trump's influence with the GOP appears to be dissipating — with a battle with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for control of the party about to take center stage according to Politico — Graham is throwing in with the ex-president, speaking with him almost daily and wrangling invites to Mar-a-Lago for weekends of golf.
"Graham's post-presidential embrace of Trump — which puts him squarely at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — is the latest twist in his on-again, off-again relationship with a man he once called a 'kook' and warned could destroy the party," the Post report states. "It comes after the four-term senator said he reviewed polling in South Carolina and across the country that shows Trump's enduring strength among Republicans, even after the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in five deaths."
While Graham did make some rumblings about Trump after the Jan. 6th Capitol riot, he is once again embracing the former president, with the Post's Josh Dawsey writing, "Graham is now positioning himself as a leader of the pro-Trump wing of a party that is increasingly divided about how to reckon with the divisive 45th president."
Graham's embrace of Trump — which is characterized as his desire to "remain relevant" and his love of sticking close to powerful people — still has some who have known the South Carolina Republican for years wondering what has changed in the man who once tweeted: "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it."
"His critics say they remember a Graham who despised Trump and what Trump stood for — and was not so craven, in their view. One longtime [John] McCain confidant said Graham is no longer in touch with many of his old friends," the Post reports. "Amanda Loveday, a former executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party who helped run a Biden super PAC in 2020, said it was frustrating to watch Graham continue to prop up Trump."
"Like a lot of others, I have voted for him," she remarked in an interview. "Everyone in South Carolina used to think he was the most reasonable man in Washington, and that has changed. Now people think he has tied himself to a horse that is unexplainable. There really is no explanation to it. He has the power to tell the Republican Party that they're moving on."
The report goes on to note that Graham's change is also puzzling to President Joe Biden who has been friends with Graham for years and has reportedly asked an associate, "what had happened to Lindsey."
Dawsey adds, "Some former Trump aides and GOP strategists say Graham likes the stardom of being around Trump. Even Trump has remarked to allies that he is surprised at Graham's approach after their brutal 2016 encounters, and former Trump aides said Graham was always angling to get on the golf course with the president."
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