Graham endorses Bush
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Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.) on Friday endorsed former Jeb Bush for president.


Graham becomes the first Republican presidential hopeful who has dropped out of the race to endorse another candidate.

The hawkish senator said Bush is the right man to lead the U.S. in the escalating war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"It is not enough to criticize Barack Obama," Graham said at a press conference standing next to Bush.

"You have to have an alternative to leading from behind," he added. "And Jeb Bush has that alternative. His plan to defeat ISIS is the most comprehensive and thought-out of anyone on either side of the isle.”

Graham also said he was swayed by Bush's bold stand at Thursday night's GOP primary debate against front-runner Donald Trump's plan to halt Muslim immigration to the country temporarily.

"Mr. Trump doubled down on the idea that we as a nation should ban every Muslim in the world, at least temporarily, from coming into our country," Graham said. "I can’t think of a worse idea in terms of how to fight and win this war.”

Trump fired back at Graham in a tweet, saying the senator "embarrassed himself with his failed run" for president and "now further embarrasses himself with endorsement of Bush."

The South Carolina lawmaker, who ended his campaign last month, sought to emphasize national security and put a focus on defeating ISIS.

Bush, along with Marco Rubio, has also put an emphasis on defeating terrorism, and told Fox News that he was "very excited" to have Graham's support.

"Lindsey Graham is probably the most knowledgable person on the Hill as it relates to national security, military affairs, foreign policy," Bush said.

Bush participated in the sixth GOP presidential debate Thursday night in North Charleston, S.C., and has been seeking to shore up support in the early voting state.

Last updated at 10:49 a.m.