With Lindsey Graham Out – Where Will John McCain Turn in 2016?

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party, at the Iowa State Fair October 31, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. With just 93 days before the Iowa caucuses Republican hopefuls are trying to shore up support amongst the party.
Steve Pope/Getty Images

Senator Lindsey Graham is out of the 2016 presidential race, after thanking his supporters for allowing him to have a conversation about foreign policy and national security.

Graham’s long shot candidacy failed to gain any real traction but it was supported by Sen. John McCain, who has described the South Carolina senator as being “like a brother to me.”

“With Senator Lindsey Graham’s announcement, Republicans lost our most qualified, thoughtful, fearless and honest presidential candidate, not to mention the candidate with the best (and it seemed sometimes the only) sense of humor,” McCain said in a statement after Graham’s announcement, lamenting that the “bifurcated debate structure” kept the South Carolina senator from reaching a wider audience.

McCain described his relationship with Graham and his decision to support his campaign during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters earlier this month.

“I’m one of those old fashioned people that believes in loyalty and I’ll stick with Lindsey Graham until he either succeeds or fails … that’s what my life has been all about,” he said.

McCain gave his opinion on other 2016 presidential candidates during the breakfast – revealing that he admired New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “gumption,” Jeb Bush’s “proposals,” and described Ohio Governor John Kasich as a “successful governor in a swing state.”

He also had positive things to say about his senate colleague Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Marco Rubio, I clearly view as the next generation of leaders in the Republican party, particularly on national security issues,” he said.

McCain’s long history of support in the Republican establishment might now be used to help someone in New Hampshire.

The two 2016 candidates most desperate for his endorsement are likely Christie and Rubio, who are both seeking a victory over anti-establishment Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

McCain’s distaste for Cruz is legendary. He described the Texas Senator as a “wacko bird” and “crazy” and he likely has little love for Trump either after the billionaire criticized his war record.

The endorsement of former failed presidential candidates sometimes fail to generate buzz or move the needle. Jeb Bush has already earned the endorsement of Sen. Bob Dole, a Republican Senator who lost to former President Bill Clinton. Since the endorsement, Bush’s numbers have only dropped.

McCain’s endorsement, however, might pull some weight in New Hampshire, after the state supported him in not only his 2000 run for president against George W. Bush but also in the 2008 race which resulted in his nomination.

McCain and Romney fought over the state in 2008, with McCain emerging as the winner. In 2012, McCain endorsed Romney during a campaign event in New Hampshire right before the primary in January.


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