The Buzz

‘Jackass,’ ‘idiot’: Graham, Trump trade barbs

FLASHBACK: Donald Trump versus Lindsey Graham

During a July 2015 campaign appearance at Sun City Hilton Head, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump complained that fellow presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham had earlier called him a jackass. Trump then read out Graham's phone n
Up Next
During a July 2015 campaign appearance at Sun City Hilton Head, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump complained that fellow presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham had earlier called him a jackass. Trump then read out Graham's phone n

New York business mogul Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham traded insults Tuesday as the two 2016 GOP presidential rivals, on opposite ends of recent polls, turned the White House campaign into a personality clash.

Graham called Trump a “jackass” repeatedly during a Tuesday morning national television interview. Trump responded the Seneca Republican was an “idiot” during a noon speech in Bluffton and gave out Graham’s personal cell-phone number.

The barbs came after Trump had said Mexico is sending criminals and rapists into the United States and U.S. Sen. John McCain, a friend of Graham’s, was not a hero despite the Arizona Republican spending more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

Graham said he wants Trump to stop slandering people to gain media attention in the crowded Republican field.

“I don’t care if he drops out. Stay in the race, just stop being a jackass. You don’t have to run for president and be the world’s biggest jackass,” Graham said on “CBS This Morning.” “I’m looking for him to be a responsible member of the 16-person primary and stop saying stuff like this. The world is falling apart.”

Graham described Trump as a “jackass” three times during the national television appearance. He has used the same term in other recent interviews.

Asked on CBS about the reaction to him calling Trump a “jackass” repeatedly, Graham said, “A lot of people are offended. The jackasses are offended. All I can say is that I’ve had it. John is my friend. He is not a perfect person. He was tortured for 5½ years.”

Responding during his speech a few hours later in the Lowcountry, Trump called Graham “a stiff” and “an idiot” who had phoned the New York business mogul asking for favors a few years ago.

Trump said Graham wanted him to mention the senator’s name with Fox News Channel representatives. Graham also requested a campaign donation, he said.

Graham received a $2,600 contribution from Trump for his 2014 re-election bid, according to federal election records.

“What’s this guy? A beggar?” Trump asked rhetorically in Bluffton.

Trump then held up a board and shared Graham’s private cell-phone number to the audience at the Sun City retirement community, near Hilton Head Island, and viewers watching via livestream. The crowd laughed.

Trump encouraged people to call. Soon after the number was revealed, a recorded message said the number belonged to Graham, and the voicemail box was full.

Trump also belittled Graham’s standing in recent polls, where he ranks near the bottom, despite being on television “all the time.”

“When you register zero in the polls, what the hell, they have nothing to lose,” Trump said.

A national poll released Monday has Trump topping Republicans seeking to win the GOP’s presidential nomination next year. The billionaire developer and reality TV star also leads in an average of recent polls by Real Clear Politics.

However, Graham said Trump’s rise won’t last. “The beginning of the end has arrived because he’s crossed a line with the American people that won’t be tolerated,” Graham said.

Trump might not get a warm reception in South Carolina because of his recent comments, Graham said earlier Tuesday. Trump’s visit was scheduled originally for last month but was postponed after the Charleston church slayings of nine parishioners.

“The motto of the state is ‘Smiling faces, beautiful places.’ I don’t think he quite fits that motto,” Graham said, referring to an S.C. tourism slogan. “I’m sure there will be some people who say, ‘Keep it up, Donald.’ But I think most South Carolinians, since I’ve lived there all my life, will be offended by what said he regarding Sen. McCain (and) his tone. We’re pretty serious people.”

Trump avoided talking about McCain during his Bluffton 45-minute speech, but he brought up immigration and criticism of his campaign’s tone. “We need tone. We need enthusiasm,” Trump said as the crowd applauded.

Graham’s getting a new phone number

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is changing his private cell-hone number after 2016 GOP presidential rival Donald Trump shared it during a Tuesday speech in Bluffton, his campaign said.

Trump read a board with Graham’s number in response to the Seneca Republican calling him a “jackass” in interviews. In addition to changing his number, Graham also plans to ditch his flip phone for a smartphone.

“Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?” he tweeted on his campaign account.

This is a big step for the tech-adverse senator. In March, Graham said he had never sent an email during a discussion about Hillary Clinton using a private email server while she was secretary of state.

“I don't email,” Graham said on “Meet the Press.” “You can have every email I've ever sent. I've never sent one.”

Andrew Shain

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC