Lindsey Graham on Donald Trump: I Think Half Of This Is An Act!

In this combination made from file photos, Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, speaks in Central, S.C., and fellow Republican candidate, real estate mogul Donald Trump, speaks in Las Vegas. In response to Trump's recent derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants, Graham says his rival is a "wrecking ball" for the future of the GOP with Hispanic voters, and is calling on the party to push back. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, John Locher, File)

KILMEADE: Do you believe that he is coachable? Do you think that he knows more than he lets on?

GRAHAM: I think half of this is an act. I think that Ted Cruz is a man who has lost. He is trying to be an isolationist when that’s hot. He’s trying to be a Lindsey Graham-type when that’s hot. I think Donald Trump, quite frankly, is coachable. I don’t like what he is saying, I’ve been hard on him, but I do believe that if you can convince him that we need more American troops in Iraq because the Generals are smart and say we do, and if you can convince him that a regional army in Syria is required to destroy the caliphate and we have to be part of it, I think he would go there.

KILMEADE: That’s interesting that you think it is an act. After six months you think it’s an act?

GRAHAM: I think some of it is just saying the strong man, you know, I’m going to kill everything and everybody therefore I’m strong, you know, I’m going to execute Bergdahl. Well, here’s what I am trying to say to Donald Trump, ‘You’re running to be President of the United States, the strongest voice in the world, you need to embrace our values to win this war, you need to be tough. You need to be able to articulate a plan to kill radical Islamists before they strike our homeland, but you need to understand partnerships are required. So the bottom line here is he’s undercutting the war effort, but I do believe, quite frankly, that he is more open minded than he appears to be. I maybe wrong.

KILMEADE: You have to be pleased with your performance last night. Am I right?

GRAHAM: I tried to show some passion and a way forward to win a war we can’t afford to lose…I am very pleased with the way the party is moving. Marco, Jeb, Christie, Carly, all of these folks articulated a foreign policy I am comfortable with.”

KILMEADE: You are not saying the same things about Rand Paul or Ted Cruz and you are not saying anything about Donald Trump?

GRAHAM: Well Donald Trump, there are three lanes here, there is leading from behind by Obama, which is not working. Isolationism, which is a step behind leading from behind. Then there is Donald Trump which is a drunk driver going from one lane to another…Ted Cruz’s carpet bombing comments made no sense to me and I have been in the Air Force for 33 years. The bottom line is the Republican party has come out well on foreign policy and I am pleased with that.

KILMEADE: Have you done enough that the polls might move in your direction?

GRAHAM: Well, if I don’t I’ll be in trouble. I have to show some life here, I have to show movement. I have a lot of people who believe in me that want me to stay in this debate to challenge people who talk about foreign policy in a fashion that will make us less safe. To be a critic of Obama but also to have a way forward. Talk about problem solving. I have to start moving her Brian, and time will tell. I hope I do, I have enjoyed the heck out of it and I tried to be me last night.

KILMEADE: Your reaction?

GRAHAM: Number one, I am at 1, don’t short sell me. Here is my reaction, I don’t need a poll to tell me what to do. 36 trips to the region over the last decade learning form my mistakes, Obama’s mistakes and Bush’s mistakes. Here is what I can tell Mr. Trump, we made a mistake leaving Iraq too soon, the surge did work. All those who fought in the surge, you got Iraq into a good spot. Obama pulled the rug out from under us to fulfil a political promise against sound, military advice. Assad was on the ropes three years ago and we should have taken him out. Here is what we have to do now, we have to destroy the caliphate before another 9/11 comes our way and its being planned as we speak and when we destroy the caliphate we can’t leave. If we left Germany and Japan, God knows what would have happened. The good news is, we don’t need a hundred thousand soldiers this time. 15 to 20,000 is probably enough to partner with the region. I don’t need Mr. Trump to tell me about polling. What I need to tell him is that you don’t have any idea what this war is about. If you did you would not denigrate the faith, you would not make it hard on the king of Jordan and the president of Egypt to work with you. At the end of the day, Mr. Trump made a mistake that nobody should ever make in America, declaring war on the faith itself rather than on radical Islam.

KILMEADE: But his polls went up Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Yeah because people think, ok, that makes sense, all Muslims are radical jihadists. What he is selling is a false sense of security. What he is selling is helping the enemy. If you are a soldier or a diplomat in the Middle East, Donald Trump is putting you at risk. To the people who want to be safe and want to win this war, you have to go over there or they are coming here. We need more American boots on the ground to partner with people in the region and when you denigrate the faith, you make it harder to create partnerships. Radical Islam wants a war between the West and Islam, I want a war between the world and radical Islam. I know how to win this war, I have been more right than wrong and I have been on your show for 2 years talking about how Obama’s strategy will never work. Its not going to work and if you don’t change it, another 9.1 is coming. Mr. Trump really doesn’t understand this war. He appear to be strong but in my view, he is very weak when it comes to understand how to win this war.”

KILMEADE: Do you believe that he is coachable? Do you think that he knows more than he lets on?

GRAHAM: I think half of this is an act. I think that Ted Cruz is a man who has lost. He is trying to be an isolationist when that’s hot. He’s trying to be a Lindsey Graham-type when that’s hot. I think Donald Trump, quite frankly, is coachable. I don’t like what he is saying, I’ve been hard on him, but I do believe that if you can convince him that we need more American troops in Iraq because the Generals are smart and say we do, and if you can convince him that a regional army in Syria is required to destroy the caliphate and we have to be part of it, I think he would go there.

KILMEADE: That’s interesting that you think it is an act. After six months you think it’s an act?

GRAHAM: I think some of it is just saying the strong man, you know, I’m going to kill everything and everybody therefore I’m strong, you know, I’m going to execute Bergdahl. Well, here’s what I am trying to say to Donald Trump, ‘You’re running to be President of the United States, the strongest voice in the world, you need to embrace our values to win this war, you need to be tough. You need to be able to articulate a plan to kill radical Islamists before they strike our homeland, but you need to understand partnerships are required. So the bottom line here is he’s undercutting the war effort, but I do believe, quite frankly, that he is more open minded than he appears to be. I maybe wrong.

GRAHAM: Well, it is nice, but here is what’s really nice. That 1% of the country served in uniform just to protect the rest of us. For 33 years I’ve been a member of the Air Force and I’ve walked in their shoes, I am not a combat soldier, but we’re lucky to have those in the diplomatic corp in the military that are willing to go over there an fight. There are four top lines and I will let you go: we’re in a religious war between radical Islam and the world, we have to partner with the world of people in the faith to destroy radical Islam, you have to hit them before they hit you – they don’t mind dying, I want the war in their backyard not ours, we’ve got to be determined to have the will to win with a plan. Those are the four takeaways after 36 visits to the region. Obama doesn’t have the strategy to win. I do. People are coming my way. I am a hawk with a heart. I want to kill terrorists but I also want to nurture others that we live in peace with.

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