During an interview with CNN that aired Thursday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made the case that President Trump isn’t racist — not because he values the content of a person’s character above all, but because Trump is too self-obsessed to be bigoted toward others.
“Do you think that he is a racist?” Dana Bash asked, alluding to Trump reportedly calling African nations “shithole countries” during a meeting Graham was in the room for last week.
“Absolutely not. Let me tell you why,” Graham replied. “You could be dark as charcoal or lily white — it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re nice to him. You could be the Pope and criticize him — it doesn’t matter, he’ll go after the Pope. You could be Putin and say nice things, and he’ll like you.”
“Here’s what I found: He’s a street fighter,” Graham continued. “It’s not the color of your skin that matters, it’s not the content of your character — it’s whether or not you show him respect and like him. And if he feels like you’re off script, you don’t like him, he punches back. And as President of the United States, the only advice I can give [him] is that the street fight is over.”
Graham’s defense of Trump is similar to the one Eric Trump offered during a Wednesday morning interview on Fox & Friends.
“My father sees one color — green,” Eric Trump said. “That is all he cares about. He cares about the economy. He does not see race. He is the least racist person I ever met in my entire life.”
While Graham’s comments about Trump seem hardly reassuring, he indicated during the CNN interview that he continues to support the president anyway.
“I like the president. I like playing golf with him. I don’t always agree with him. I respect the fact that he won the office. And I’m not in the ‘resist’ camp,” Graham said. “And at the end of the day, I want to help this president because I owe it to the people of South Carolina and to the country. We should all want him to be successful.”
Graham was an outspoken critic of Trump during the campaign, but in recent months he has emerged as a surprisingly staunch supporter of the president, going as far as to endorse one of Trump’s private golf courses on his official Twitter account.
During an interview on The View earlier this month, Graham suggested that while Trump may be a xenophobic, race-baiting bigot, now that he’s the Republican President of the United States, he’s our xenophobic, race-baiting bigot.
“I said a xenophobic, race-baiting religious bigot — I ran out of things to say” during the campaign, Graham said. “He won. Guess what? He’s our president.”