Hours after South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump “the world’s biggest jackass” for questioning Arizona Sen. John McCain’s “war hero” status, the real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate responded by giving out Graham’s personal cellphone number.
In a characteristically rambling speech to reporters in Bluffton, S.C., Trump told the crowd that Graham once called “begging” him to put in a good word with “Fox & Friends,” the Fox News morning show on which the billionaire businessman and “Celebrity Apprentice” host was a frequent guest.
Trump read aloud Graham’s private telephone number from a piece of paper at the podium.
“Maybe it’s an old number,” Trump told his supporters. “I don’t know, give it a shot.”
A call to the phone number by Yahoo News went to Graham’s voice mailbox, which was full.
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Bluffton, S.C., on Tuesday. (Photo: Stephen B. Morton/AP)
Reached by a Politico reporter, Graham said he wasn’t shocked by Trump’s antics.
“When it comes to the Donald, nothing surprises me anymore,” Graham said. “It’s just too bad, really.”
“Probably getting a new phone,” Graham later tweeted. “iPhone or Android?”
Earlier in the speech, Trump lobbed insults at both Graham and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who Trump said “put glasses on so people will think he’s smart — it just doesn’t work.”
“What a stiff,” Trump said of Graham. “He doesn’t seem like a very bright guy. He actually probably seems to me not as bright as Rick Perry. I think Rick Perry probably is smarter than Lindsey Graham.”
On Monday, Graham said Trump’s comments about McCain have become a distraction to the rest of the GOP field.
“He’s becoming a jackass at a time when we need to have a serious debate about the future of the party and the country,” Graham told CNN. “This is a line he’s crossed, and this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump.”
But a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Trump has opened up a double-digit lead in the race for the Republican nomination.
According to the survey, conducted July 16-19, Trump has the support of 24 percent of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents — 11 points higher than Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (13 percent) and 12 points ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The bulk of the poll, though, was conducted before Trump’s controversial comments about McCain.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at a GOP summit in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
During the poll’s first three days, Trump was the choice of 28 percent of respondents. But on Sunday, less than 10 percent of respondents said they would support him — a signal that Trump’s comments about McCain may cause his lead to evaporate.
Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register published a blistering editorial calling on Trump to “pull the plug on his bloviating side show”:
In the five weeks since he announced his campaign to seek the GOP nomination for president, Trump has been more focused on promoting himself, and his brand, than in addressing the problems facing the nation. If he were merely a self-absorbed, B-list celebrity, his unchecked ego could be tolerated as a source of mild amusement. But he now wants to become president, which means that he aspires to be the leader of the free world and the keeper of our nuclear launch codes.
He has become “the distraction with traction” — a feckless blowhard who can generate headlines, name recognition and polling numbers not by provoking thought, but by provoking outrage.
On Tuesday, Trump fired back:
As one of the most liberal newspapers in the United States, the poll results were just too much for them to bear. The Des Moines Register has lost much circulation, advertising, and power over the last number of years. They will do anything for a headline, and this poorly written “non-endorsement” got them some desperately needed ink.