U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was once a critic of Donald Trump and a great friend of his late Senate colleague John McCain. Now he's doubling down on Trump's incendiary rhetoric against four congresswomen of color, and McCain's daughter isn't having it.
"Whatever is happening to Lindsey, this is not the person I used to know," Meghan McCain said today on The View.
Over the weekend, Trump had tweeted that "'progressive' Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" are "viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run" and should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." He did not identify the targets of his ire, but they are widely considered to be House members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, all women of color -- and all U.S.-born except Omar, a refugee from Somalia.
Many Democrats quickly condemned Trump's tweets as racist and xenophobic (they are also misogynistic), but most Republicans have said nothing against his remarks, and Graham actually upped the ante. "We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they're calling the guards along our border -- the border patrol agents -- concentration camp guards," he said Monday on the Fox News Channel. "They accuse people who support Israel as doing it 'for the Benjamins.' They're anti-Semitic, they're anti-America."
The View contrasted Graham's current support for Trump with a 2015 clip of the senator calling him "a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot." That led Meghan McCain to say he's "not the person I used to know."
\u201cMeghan McCain slams the "cowardice" of the GOP for not speaking out against Trump's tweets on the Democratic congresswomen, including Sen. Lindsey Graham's defense of Trump: "Whatever is happening to Lindsey, this is not the person I used to know" https://t.co/xDNYOEfslg @TheView\u201d
She also called for more conservatives to criticize Trump's racist statements, saying, "It can't just be me and Geraldo" -- referring to Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera, who tweeted that Trump, his "friend," should "steer clear of language that's xenophobic even racist." Rivera also contended that the president is "better than that."
Ocasio-Cortez has taken Graham to task too, with the following tweet.
\u201cI see @LindseyGrahamSC\u2019s biggest issue w/ Trump\u2019s racism is that it doesn\u2019t go far enough - Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism, too.\n\nGOP is doing this because they have no plan for our future.\n\nWe\u2019re the ones fighting for healthcare, edu, good jobs, & they got nothing.\u201d
Trump, meanwhile, isn't dialing down his rhetoric at all, as he told reporters at the White House today his comments were "not racist" and that Omar hates America, hates Jews, and loves al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Omar, who had earlier asserted her loyalty to the U.S., tweeted today that she will fight continue to stand up to him.
\u201cThey are working to silence the voices of the people who see themselves represented in me. I will stay in the ring, fighting for what is right and will never back down in the face of these attacks.\u201d
The four first-term congresswomen have often been at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but she has their backs on this.
\u201cWhen @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to \u201cMake America Great Again\u201d has always been about making America white again.\n\nOur diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.\u201d