Senate

Graham warns about trying to ‘drive’ Trump from GOP: ‘Half the people will leave’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday made an argument for former President Trump remaining a main figure in the Republican Party, contending that without him, “half the people will leave.”

Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Graham about previous comments in which he suggested that people fear that if they do not have Trump’s support, they will not get elected, according to a video provided by Mediaite.

Graham responded by saying Trump is “the most popular Republican in the country.”

“He’s the most popular Republican in the country by a lot,” Graham said. “If you try to drive him out of the Republican Party, half the people will leave.”

“It doesn’t mean you can’t criticize the president. It means the Republican Party cannot go forward without President Trump being part of it,” Graham continued.

Graham also discussed the leadership battle involving House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who will likely be ousted from her post on Wednesday and replaced with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Graham said people are not “entitled” to be leaders but must “earn that right,” adding that “if people don’t think you’re leading them well, they can fire you.”

“When you become a leader of a conference, then you need to have the confidence of the people you’re leading. To me, Liz has lost that,” he added.

Graham said he predicts that Cheney will lose her leadership position on Wednesday but not because of her vote to impeach Trump in January. Instead, he said it is because she is trying to argue that the Republican Party would be better off without Trump.

“What’s happened is that she’s trying to make the argument the Republican Party is better off without Donald Trump, that he’s disqualified from being a member of the Republican Party, that he should never be allowed to pursue office again. I disagree with that, and I think most House Republicans disagree with that,” Graham said.

“So, when you’re a leader and people lose confidence in you, you can be fired, and that’s what’s going to happen tomorrow,” he continued.

Graham expressed a similar sentiment Friday when he said the Republican Party can’t “move forward” without Trump.

“I’ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she’s made a determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump. I’ve determined we can’t grow without him,” he added.

While Cheney survived a vote to remove her from the No. 3 leadership position in February, the chorus of voices calling for her ouster has increased in recent days.

Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) all backed Cheney’s ouster and called for Stefanik to be elevated to House GOP conference chairwoman.

On Monday, however, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the only woman on the Senate Republicans’ elected leadership team, backed Cheney, comparing the effort to oust her from leadership to “cancel culture.” She argued that the party should be focused on unifying ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Tags Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Joni Ernst Kevin McCarthy Lindsey Graham Liz Cheney Steve Scalise

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