Jeb Bush won the not-so-coveted Lindsey Graham endorsement this morning:
According to a source close to Graham, national security has always been the most important issue for the senator and Graham thinks he has found the next commander in chief.
Graham’s endorsement is notable for a few reasons. First, it shows that “establishment” figures in the party aren’t giving up on Bush despite the extraordinarily poor campaign he has run so far. It also encourages people in the South Carolina state party to get behind Bush as the “establishment” alternative, which ensures that the splintering of their vote will continue at least through the end of February. That’s bad news for Kasich and Rubio, and it’s terrible news for anyone that wants to consolidate anti-Trump forces behind one candidate. Though he probably doesn’t see it this way, Graham just made a Trump or Cruz nomination a little more likely, and that is exactly what he doesn’t want.
Graham’s decision to back Bush rather than Rubio is a remarkable vote of no confidence in the latter. This is all the more striking when one considers that Rubio’s foreign policy is virtually identical to Graham’s. Rubio has made foreign policy the centerpiece of his campaign much more than Bush has, so much so that he has risked becoming a mini-Graham, but that doesn’t seem to have impressed the South Carolinian. Perhaps Graham still resents Rubio for abandoning the Senate immigration bill, or perhaps he doesn’t think that a one-term senator should be president. Whatever the reason, this decision makes it harder for Rubio in South Carolina to do well, and that in turn puts his campaign under additional pressure to do much better in one of the other early contests.