Sen. Lindsey Graham joined syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt for an interview Tabout President Trump's claim that he is willing to shut down the government to get funding for his border wall.
"President Trump is thinking the right way in terms of putting combinations together that will get Democratic votes. Here’s the problem. You’re going to lose about a dozen plus House guys on the Republican side, because they can never vote to raise the debt ceiling, and that means you’ve got to go buy Democrats, find a vehicle that Democrats have to vote for, tie it together," Graham explained.
He also discussed President Trump's strategy of running against members of Congress, even if they are in his party: "Trump is making a political decision here to be presidential, listen to the generals, and to go back to his base and fire them up and put pressure on the Senate and the House to do things he wants... The Congress is very unpopular, particularly with the Republican base, so there’s nothing unhinged about it. It’s a political strategy that I’m not so sure is smart, but it’s a very thought-out strategy. There’s nothing crazy about it. It’s a political strategy."
Transcript, via Hugh Hewitt Show:
HH: Listen to Don Lemon two nights ago. I found this to be an abdication of professionalism on a level that I have not heard before, and I like Don Lemon. I’ve been on his show a lot when I used to do CNN stuff. But this, just listen to this.
DL: Well, what do you say to that? I’m just going to speak from the heart here. What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts, someone who came out on stage and lied directly to the American people and left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history, especially when it comes to Charlottesville. He’s unhinged, it’s embarrassing, and I don’t mean for us, the media, because he went after us, but for the country. This is who we elected president of the United States, a man who is so petty that he has to go after people who he deems to be his enemy like an imaginary friend of a six year old. His speech was without thought. It was without reason. It was devoid of facts. It was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas. There was no sanity there. He was like a child blaming a sibling on something else. He did it. I didn’t do it. He certainly opened up the race wound from Charlottesville, a man clearly wounded by the rational people who are abandoning him in droves, meaning those business people, and the people in Washington now who are questioning his fitness for office and whether he is stable, a man backed into a corner, it seems, by circumstances beyond his control and beyond his understanding.
HH: So Senator Graham, lied, unhinged, embarrassing, petty, imaginary friend, no sanity, clearly wounded, fitness, stable, what do you make of that?
LG: Well, I hear that every day about me.
LG: But breaking news, he won, Don, being exactly the way he was in Phoenix. He won giving these kinds of speeches. People at CNN, they’re literally, he’s driving them crazy. Trump is making a political decision here to be presidential, listen to the generals, and to go back to his base and fire them up and put pressure on the Senate and the House to do things he wants. He’s not the first president to use the bully pulpit to try to push the country in a particular direction or to keep his base on board. He’s making a conscious decision to let his base know that when I said I want to build the wall, I meant to build the wall. He’s running against Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and others. The Congress is very unpopular, particularly with the Republican base, so there’s nothing unhinged about it. It’s a political strategy that I’m not so sure is smart, but it’s a very thought-out strategy. There’s nothing crazy about it. It’s a political strategy.
HH: Thank you for saying that. That is exactly what, I’ve been trying to tell people we have a coalition government in the United States right now – the party of President Trump and the Congressional Republicans. And coalition governments get sparky occasionally. They fray and they run into each other. But they’re, but they don’t fall apart. They go back to their corners and they beat up on each other, but they don’t fall apart. And this one’s not going to fall apart. Now talk to me about the debt ceiling, Senator Graham, because why can’t we attach it to, example, the repeal of the BCA and the building of the wall and defy Democrats to vote to both default on our debt obligation, default on our security and default on our military forces? Why can’t we do that?
LG: I don’t think that’s a particularly bad strategy. So what you do is how about let’s play politics with the majority for a change? We’ve been on defense ever since I’ve been up there. We’ve got the floor. We can, you know, determine what comes to the floor. Let’s take some hard votes. Let’s make Democrats say no to raise the debt ceiling, no to funding the troops, no to helping veterans, see how many of them break. And I don’t know why we don’t do that. And I think that’s what President Trump is saying. I’d like to take it to the other side. I want to work with them. I’ve got a reputation of working across the aisle. But they have no problem at all, you know, popping us in the face. Let’s pop them back.