Former Navy pilot Shane Osborn is getting help from two of the most prominent moderates in the Senate in his campaign for the GOP nomination for an open senate seat in Nebraska.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he had donated to Osborn and that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is planning to travel to Nebraska to help Osborn raise campaign funds.
“I’ve given him money,” Graham told Breitbart News, adding, “I think John McCain’s going out to help him, he’s a great candidate.”
The endorsements could help Osborn on the money trail, but they are unlikely to motivate Nebraska voters the way former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will help Ben Sasse, a university president and former George W. Bush aide she endorsed.
McCain seemed to realize his imprimatur may not be a godsend for Osborn in a primary that has emerged as a key proxy battle between the national Tea Party groups and the GOP Establishment.
Asked about his Nebraska travel plans, McCain jokingly uttered a string of expletives to express his displeasure that Graham had told a reporter about the issue.
“I haven’t gone yet. I hadn’t had plans to go yet. I am supporting him,” McCain said, adding that he was in the process of donating funds to Osborn.
“This really has a lot to do with my respect for his military service,” McCain said, going on to rip “ridiculous” Osborn critics who say he should not have landed a Navy spy plane in China, exposing U.S. technology to the Communist nation.
“Frankly, for people who have never been in that situation to critique it is really absurd,” McCain said.
Osborn came under heavy fire when it was discovered that a letter he gave the press on official Navy letterhead clearing his actions turned out to have been authored by a personal friend who was doing him a favor. Osborn distributed the fake memo to media on the campaign trail.
Both Graham and McCain said they came to support Osborn after he was introduced to Republican senators at a closed-door luncheon in February. Osborn appeared at the invitation of Republican Sen. Deb Fischer (NE).
Polls show the race between Osborn and Sasse is close.