Whether debating as a presidential candidate, stumping for Jeb Bush or just chatting in the halls of the Capitol, Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is making a national name for himself as something of a political stand-up act.
Speaking in front of colleagues and journalists at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual Congressional Dinner Thursday night, the South Carolinian wavered between roasting presidential candidates and striking a more somber note.
“The most dishonest person in America is a woman who is about to be president. How could that be? My party has gone (expletive) crazy,” he said, to hoots and cheers from the audience. “How did I lose to these guys?”
Graham highlighted the tragicomic turn the 2016 election has taken, ultimately donning a “Make America Great Again” hat and sarcastically endorsing Republican front-runner Donald Trump for president.
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“Our party and our country is going to have to up its game. You’re going to have to ask him harder questions,” Graham said, addressing the journalists in the audience. “And I don’t mean to turn a funny thing into a serious thing.”
An unpredictable, often chaotic race for the White House has given Graham ample material for his now-famous zingers. With seven months left before the election, he said Thursday he is “running out of adjectives.”
Here are his top 10 election-year hits – so far:
1.) On Ted Cruz: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” –Washington Press Club Foundation dinner
2.) On Donald Trump: “I am like on the team that bought a ticket on the Titanic after we saw the movie. This is what happens if you nominate Trump.” – to reporters on Capitol Hill, Feb. 25
3.) On choosing between Trump and Cruz: “It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?” – Capitol Hill press conference, Jan. 21
4.) On his suspended 2016 bid: “I got out because I ran out of money. If you want to get money out of politics, you should have joined my campaign.” – Jeb Bush event in Salem, N.H., Feb. 7
5.) On immigration: “We will deport felons. And those who stay will have to learn our language. … I don’t speak ... English ... well, but look how far I’ve come.” – Third Republican debate, Oct. 28
6.) On the Democratic candidates: “Good God, look who we’re running against. The No. 1 candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The No. 2 guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon, and I don’t think he ever came back.” – Third Republican debate
7.) On what would happen if Trump won: “The Islamic State ... would be dancing in the streets. They just don’t believe in dancing.” – Fifth Republican debate, Dec. 15
8.) On running for president as a bachelor: “I’ve got a lot of friends. We'll have a rotating first lady.” – Interview with Daily Mail, June 9
9.) More Trump: “You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.” – CNN interview, Dec. 8
10.) On how to improve inter-party relations: “If I’m president, we’re going to drink more.” – Iowa State Fair, Aug. 17
Bonus: “To the Donald!” – Toast on CNN’s “Politics on Tap” Happy Hour