During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was one Donald Trump’s harshest Republican critics. Not anymore.
“I am like the happiest dude in America right now,” Graham said on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. “We’ve got a president and a national security team that I’ve been dreaming of for eight years.”
Graham praised Trump’s recent bombing of Syria and ISIS in Afghanistan, his tough talk against North Korea and the administration’s review of the Iran nuclear deal.
“In 80 days he’s done more to correct the world, President Trump, than Obama did in eight years,” Graham said. “We sent a letter to our good buddy, the Ayotollah. ‘Hey, knock it off. You’ve got this Iranian nuclear deal, you may be complying with it, but you’re also destroying the Mideast. You’re the largest state sponsor of terrorism. You captured our sailors against international law, humiliated them. You’re firing missiles in violation of U.N. resolutions that even the Russians voted for. So we’re putting you on notice.”
Graham’s comments came the same day Vice President Mike Pence warned that the U.S. military is ready to strike if North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un escalates Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations.
“The United States of America will always seek peace,” Pence said aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, which is docked at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, Japan. “But under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.”
“If I were Kim Jong Un, whatever his name is, I would listen to Mike Pence,” Graham said.
Earlier this week, Pence toured the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, staring down North Korean soldiers standing on the north side.
“The fact that the vice president of the United States went to the DMZ, looked across the way and said, ‘We’re watching you’ — Donald Trump is not going to let this nutjob in North Korea get a missile to hit America,” Graham said. “And if I were North Korea and China, I would start thinking anew about the president of the United States.”
On the “Today” show, Graham said he spoke about North Korea with Trump during a recent lunch at the White House.
“I said, ‘Do you want on your résumé during your presidency that the North Koreans developed a missile that hit the American homeland on top of it?’” Graham recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely not.’ And that’s what this is all about.”
During the 2016 GOP primary, Graham called Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” and “a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party.”
“He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for,” Graham said days before the Iowa caucuses. “I’d rather lose without Donald Trump than try to win with him. I wish he would leave the party. I don’t care if he runs as an independent. If we lose the 2016 election, so be it.”
Graham added: “You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”
At one point in the campaign, Trump gave out Graham’s cellphone number at a rally after reading that the South Carolina senator had called him a “jackass.”
Even after taking office, the two continued to exchange blows. After Graham and his close ally, Sen. John McCain, knocked Trump’s travel ban, the president took to Twitter to accuse the national security hawks of warmongering.
Now, Graham says, Trump often calls him.
What a difference a few months and 59 Tomahawk missiles make.
“He’s got the best national security team I’ve seen since I’ve been in government,” Graham said on “Fox & Friends.” “I am all in. Keep it up, Donald. I’m sure you’re watching. Don’t let these guys talk you out of being tough, because you need to be tough.”
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