Republican presidential candidate and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), already outspoken against Donald Trump’s controversial comments on immigration, lit into the real-estate mogul again on Wednesday.
Graham said every Republican candidate needs to disavow Trump’s comments, in which he portrayed many Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug runners. And he used a typical story of an immigrant family to illustrate his point.
Graham told a fictitious, but representative, story of an immigrant family who came to the US illegally in 1988 with one child, during a foreign-policy-centric question-and-answer session at the Atlantic Council. They had another child, he theorised, in the United States. That makes one of their children a legal citizen, while both them and their other child are undocumented.
Graham imagined the younger child becoming a Marine. He serves two tours in Afghanistan, “defending us from radical Islam.” He comes home and says, “Hey, where’s mum?”
“You haven’t heard?” Graham imagined someone telling him. “She’s walking back to Mexico.”
That, Graham said, is the familiar process of “self-deportation” to which some Republican candidates — including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney — have subscribed. Graham said he hoped “self-deportation” was in the rearview mirror for Republicans, but it doesn’t solve the party’s Trump problem.
Trump, Graham said, says that most of the people like the family in his tale are drug dealers and “rapists.”
“What you’re telling Sgt. Gomez,” Graham said of his imagined US Marine, “is that his mother, his older brother, his father in the eyes of at least one Republican are a bunch of bad people.”
“Why would any group,” Graham continued, “vote for a party that embraces that view? I sure as hell wouldn’t. And why would any group listen to your economic plan if you’re going to deport their grandmother?”
Graham then told a bit of his personal story — he was 21 when his mother died, and 22 when his father died. His sister was only 13 years old at the time.
“If it wasn’t for family, friends, and faith, I wouldn’t be here today,” Graham said. “I’m not going to engage in rhetoric or policies to destroy a family that’s done nothing but try to get a better life for my political gain.”
Graham said the party as a whole needs to disavow the comments, unless they want to lose the White House again in 2016.
“I hope every Republican candidate would say the following: We disagree with Donald Trump in this regard. Most of the people here illegally are good, hard-working people,” he said. “And if we’re not willing to say that as a party, we’re going to lose in 2016.”
Graham was one of the first GOP candidates to denounce Trump. Over the weekend, he took a dig at one of his business losses in an interview with Business Insider.
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