Politics

Lindsey Graham Won't Vote for Trump or Clinton

South Carolina senator will focus efforts on House and Senate races

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will focus his efforts on helping Republicans keep their House and Senate majorities this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham won't be voting for either of the major party presidential nominees.  

“I think Donald Trump is going places that very few people have gone, and I’m not going there with him,” Graham said Friday in an interview on CNN. "I'm just glad we're having the convention in Cleveland, not Area 51."  

Graham piled on the criticism  over Trump's Cinco de Mayo tweet . "Eating a taco is probably not going to fix the problems we have with Hispanics," he said. The South Carolina Republican issued a statement ahead of the CNN interview, saying he would neither be supporting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton nor presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.  

“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as commander in chief," Graham said. “After the election, regardless of who wins the presidency, I will do everything I can to help our new president deal with the many challenges facing our nation. The next president will inherit a mess and will need all the help they can get.”  

A Party Divided: GOP Leaders Split on Supporting Trump

[Related: Ryan Not Ready to Support Trump] Trump had his own barb for Graham, calling him “beyond rehabilitation.”

“Every time I see Lindsey Graham spew hate during interviews, I ask why the media never questions how I single-handedly destroyed his hapless run for President,” Trump said in a statement. “Judging by the incompetent way he ran his campaign, it is easy to see why his military strategies have failed so badly — we can’t even beat ISIS!”  

[Related: Lindsey Graham’s Wittiest Moments] Graham had his own short-lived run for the White House, but was among the first to drop out. Graham said he will not be going to the Republican National Convention this summer, but he does plan to help GOP candidates in congressional races. "I will focus my time, energy and effort on raising resources and advocating for our Republican majorities in the House and Senate. It is imperative that we have strong, reliable conservatives acting as a check and balance against excesses in government," Graham said.  

[Related: What's A Vulnerable Republican To Do] Among those on the ballot this year is one of Graham's closest friends, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain.  

Earlier in the week, Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller told reporters he was only committing to not vote for Clinton , pointing out that Silver State voters had the option of voting for none of the above. Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday he couldn't support Trump at this point.  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.