What happened to Lindsey Graham? The answer seems simpler than anyone thought.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) quickly went from believing a Trump presidency would be the end of the Republican Party as we know it, to running defense for the same guy he called "a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot" in 2015.
Graham's 180 has led to rampant speculation about whether Graham is being blackmailed by some nefarious pro-Trump entity that has caused the rapid change in Graham's rhetoric around Trump.
But Graham told the New York Times' Mark Lebovitch that the reason for his flip is even more cynical than you may have imagined.
He simply wants "to try to be relevant" — and win re-election in 2020.
"In our business, you're not defined by the 80 percent agreement," Graham told Lebovitch, referring to the votes lawmakers take that back the president's policies. "You're defined by the 20 percent."
Graham — who faced primary opposition from the GOP's tea party base in his 2014 re-election campaign — said that everyone does this, including his late pal John McCain, who in 2010 tried to paint himself as a conservative rather than a "maverick" to win.
"If you don't want to get re-elected, you're in the wrong business," Graham told Lebovitch.
Graham's quest for "relevance" and re-election has caused him to abandon logic and principles to do things like advocate for Trump's fake "national emergency" declaration for wall funding, as well as call for an investigation into a phony Fox News-driven conspiracy theory about the Russia investigation.
But despite Graham's embrace of Trump, he still seems skeptical of the man who displays the same racist and xenophobic behavior Graham once stood up against.
"Do I trust him?" Graham told Lebovitch. "I trust the president to want to be successful."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.