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Lindsey Graham: Trump Can Make GOP ‘Bigger,’ ‘Stronger,’ And ‘More Diverse,’ Or He Could ‘Destroy It’

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UNITED STATES - MARCH 05: Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., conduct a news conference as the Senate debates the coronavirus relief package on Friday, March 5, 2021.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in an Axios interview Sunday that he wants former President Donald Trump to be part of the Republican Party and that he wants to “harness the magic” Trump has while trying to contain his “dark side.”

“Donald Trump was my friend before the riot, and I’m trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot. I still consider him a friend. What happened was a dark day in American history and we’re going to move forward,” Graham said. “So here’s what you need to know about me. I want this to continue. I want us to continue the policies that I think will make America strong. I believe the best way for the Republican Party to do that is with Trump, not without Trump.”

Graham said that it would be “too easy” for him to write off Trump now that he secured another six-term in the U.S. Senate.

“What’s hard is to take a movement that I think is good for the country, try to get the leader of the movement, who has got lots of problems facing him, and the party, and see if we can make a go of it,” Graham said. “Mitt Romney didn’t do it. John McCain didn’t do it. There’s something about Trump. There’s a dark side, and there’s some magic there. And what I’m trying to do is just harness the magic. To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, and PT Barnum.”

“I mean it’s just this bigger than life deal,” Graham concluded. “He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know could make it. He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Donald Trump was my friend before the riot, and I’m trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot. I still consider him a friend. What happened was a dark day in American history and we’re going to move forward.

So here’s what you need to know about me. I want this to continue. I want us to continue the policies that I think will make America strong. I believe the best way for the Republican Party to do that is with Trump, not without Trump.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS REPORTER: Not only does he show no remorse, I mean, he’s still telling everyone he won in a landslide.

GRAHAM: Yeah. And and I tell him every day that he wants to listen, that I think the main reason he probably lost in Arizona beating on the dead guy called John McCain.

SWAN: Do you think you could have won reelection without being an ardent supporter of President Trump?

GRAHAM: Here’s the thing. My election’s over?

SWAN: Yeah.

GRAHAM: I could throw him over tomorrow.

SWAN: Right.

GRAHAM: Why aren’t I?

SWAN: Yeah, that’s what I really don’t understand.

GRAHAM: Well, then you don’t understand me very much.

SWAN: I don’t. That’s why I’m asking you.

GRAHAM: I know, that’s right. So I could say, you know, that’s it, it’s over, it’s done. That’s just too easy. What’s hard, is to take a movement that I think is good for the country, try to get the leader of the movement, who has got lots of problems facing him, and the party, and see if we can make a go of it. Mitt Romney didn’t do it. John McCain didn’t do it. There’s something about Trump. There’s a dark side, and there’s some magic there. And what I’m trying to do is just harness the magic. To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, and PT Barnum. I mean it’s just this bigger than life deal. He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know could make it. He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it.

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