Former Lindsey Graham donor says support stopped when he didn't defend McCain from Trump

A former top donor to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMSNBC's Joy Reid pans Manchin, Sinema as the 'no progress caucus' Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-S.C.) who publicly endorsed Graham’s challenger Jamie Harrison wrote Tuesday that one of the final straws for him was Graham’s failure to defend the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSylvester Stallone reportedly joins Trump's Mar-a-Lago The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Cindy McCain to be named Biden ambassador to UN program: report MORE (R-Ariz.) from attacks by President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE.

“I asked myself, ‘What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won’t defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?’” Richard Wilkerson, the retired chairman and president of Michelin North America, wrote in an op-ed for the Greenville News.

“My conclusion was that he was more interested in currying favor than in honoring the memory of a true American hero whom he had described as his best friend," he added. "I was extremely disappointed.”


Wilkerson cites other policies and actions he said further soured him on Graham, including his support for the 2017 tax reform package and his opposition to increased unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Apparently, he feels that it is OK to share government dollars with those who don’t truly need the money, but deny any small windfall to working people who have lost their jobs. These two actions tell me who is important to him, and I do not agree with his direction,” Wilkerson wrote.

Wilkerson announced his endorsement of Harrison in late April, calling him “the perfect candidate to bring together South Carolinians from all walks of life.” Wilkerson has donated to Democrats in the past, including Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLawmakers express horror at latest Capitol attack Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-N.H.).

Although Graham remains the favorite in the race, his vocal backing of Trump has made him a top target for Democratic donors, and Harrison outraised Graham in the first quarter of the year.

Graham has defended his handling of Trump’s attacks on McCain, saying last year "I’m not into this idea the only way you can help honor John McCain is to trash out Trump.”