Lindsey Graham: This Election 'Makes Me Want To Move To Canada'

A number of Republicans sidestepped questions about Donald Trump's admiration for Vladimir Putin.
Lindsey Graham is ready to pack his bags.
Lindsey Graham is ready to pack his bags.
Al Drago via Getty Images

WASHINGTON 鈥 After watching NBC鈥檚 Commander-in-Chief forum on Wednesday night, Lindsey Graham is mulling a move to Canada.

The Republican senator from South Carolina had nothing positive to say Thursday about either presidential candidate鈥檚 performance during the forum, which focused on foreign policy issues, and again distanced himself from his party鈥檚 nominee.

鈥淚t makes me want to move to Canada,鈥 Graham told reporters at the Capitol.

Despite having some positive expectations for her, Graham wasn鈥檛 impressed with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton鈥檚 performance, calling her 鈥渄efensive.鈥

鈥淚 thought her idea of we don鈥檛 need any troops in Iraq and Syria 鈥 even though we got 7,000 in Iraq and probably close to a thousand in Syria 鈥 was disappointing,鈥 Graham said.

But Graham, who has served in Congress since 1995, saved most of his criticisms for Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Graham appeared to be warming to Trump, crediting the real estate mogul for presenting a 鈥more disciplined message鈥 in recent weeks. But after watching the candidate praise Russian President Vladimir Putin during the forum Wednesday night, Graham鈥檚 tune changed.

鈥淚n terms of competency, I think Trump fell way short,鈥 Graham said. 鈥淵ou鈥檙e running to be the leader of the free world, and if you find admiration of Vladimir Putin, then I鈥檓 not with you.鈥

鈥淚 don鈥檛 understand how any candidate to be leader of the free world could praise Putin, who鈥檚 a thug and an autocratic dictator,鈥 Graham continued.

Graham had similarly harsh words in a later scrum with reporters. 鈥淚 think this is the biggest miscalculation since people thought Hitler was a good guy,鈥 he said of Trump鈥檚 kind words for Putin, according to Bloomberg.

Trump reiterated his belief that the Russian president is 鈥渧ery much of a leader鈥 when pressed on Putin鈥檚 attempts to undermine U.S. influence in key regions and his annexation of Crimea.

鈥淗e鈥檚 been a leader far more than our president has been a leader,鈥 Trump said.

The Republican presidential nominee went on to say that if he were elected he would keep the Islamic State out of Iraq once defeating them by taking the country鈥檚 oil.

Taking Iraq鈥檚 oil, Graham said, would 鈥渟tart World War III.鈥

Other Republicans weren鈥檛 so eager to discuss Trump鈥檚 adulation of Putin.

鈥淚鈥檓 not going to go down that path,鈥 Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said when asked if he agreed with Trump that Putin is a better leader than President Barack Obama.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he鈥檇 rather not be 鈥渢he referee鈥 when it comes to rhetoric on the campaign trail.

鈥淚t doesn鈥檛 really have to do with anything about public policy,鈥 Corker said of Trump鈥檚 remarks about Putin.

When pressed further on the issue, Corker did advise that Trump should be careful and not be affected by a foreign leader鈥檚 compliments.

鈥淥ne has to be careful not to succumb to flattery when there are issues like this that are very important for us to resolve,鈥 he said, referring to tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

On the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sidestepped a question about Trump鈥檚 friendliness toward Putin.

鈥淰ladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests,鈥 Ryan said. 鈥淚t certainly appears that he is conducting in state-sponsored cyberattacks on what appears to be our political system ... That is an adversarial stance.鈥

But does the Republican presidential nominee鈥檚 praise of Putin concern him?

鈥淚 made my points about Putin clear. I鈥檒l just leave it at that,鈥 Ryan said.

Editor鈥檚 note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims 鈥 1.6 billion members of an entire religion 鈥 from entering the U.S.

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