Lindsey Graham is no fool. By dropping out of the presidential race Monday, he retains his ability to serve as a South Carolina kingmaker without the embarrassment of losing the state’s primary by a landslide.
Graham’s support matters, even though the senator from South Carolina never stood with the dozen or so candidates on the prime-time, top-tier debate stage.
“Senator Graham won 56 percent of the ballots of the primary voters in South Carolina just last year,” notes Matt Moore, the state's GOP chairman. “So I would not underestimate Senator Graham’s ability to develop a campaign or candidate. He has a huge audience in South Carolina.”
The question now remains what he’ll do and where his support will go. Since he entered the race in June, Graham frequently attacked Donald Trump over his nativist, ban-the-Muslims rhetoric, as well as any candidate who didn't purport hawkish foreign policy views, whether it be Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. In just the last week, he lumped both Cruz and Paul together as “isolationists” and labeled Cruz, who has attempted to position himself between Graham and Paul, as a “drunk driver going from one lane to the other.” It's pretty clear Graham won't be supporting any of those three candidates.