Former Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham called his own party “bat[expletive] crazy” and urged them to “do a little soul searching” at a dinner in Washington Thursday evening, part of a roast he gave at the annual Congressional Dinner sponsored by the Washington Press Club Foundation.
Graham mocked the entire 2016 presidential field, cracking jokes as the remaining Republican presidential candidates wrapped up a debate in Houston. Graham, a South Carolina Republican, dropped out of the presidential contest in December after gaining little traction in the polls.
He started off by poking fun of himself, a regular in the undercard debates, noting the dinner was a “good reason not to watch the Republican debate — yet another one I have not been in.”
Graham then hit at fellow Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is unpopular with his colleagues. “A good Republican would defend Ted Cruz after tonight,” Graham said. “That ain’t happening.”
He went further: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” Graham said.
He also made fun of Cruz’s Canadian upbringing: “I know exactly when Ted is going to drop out of the race: March 12,” he said. “That’s Canadian week at Myrtle Beach.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Graham said, is the “nice guy” in the GOP field.
“He tried to kill his cousin,” Graham said, referring to an episode from Carson’s youth. “He’s the one we all like.”
Graham also poked fun at Marco Rubio’s perspiration issues: “The Secret Service’s main job if he’s president is to keep him hydrated,” he said.
He took a more serious tone, though, when he spoke of Donald Trump.
“Our party and our country is going to have to up its game,” Graham said to the audience, which was filled with members of Congress and the national press. “You’re going to have to ask harder questions. I don’t mean to turn a funny thing into a serious thing.”
He referenced 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney recently asking Trump to release his taxes, suggesting that the Republican frontrunner may have something to hide, and told the media to scrub Trump harder. “Anytime that Mitt Romney thinks you should turn over your taxes, you’re probably giving him a pass,” Graham said. In 2012, Romney finally released his tax returns after much pressure.
Graham lamented that Hillary Clinton may be the next president if Trump becomes the Republican nominee.
“How could that be?” he said. “My party’s gone bat[expletive] crazy! How did I lose to these people?”
Graham also roasted the Democratic field. He mocked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for reportedly trailing 50 points behind Hillary Clinton in his home state of South Carolina, which will hold a Democratic presidential primary on Saturday.
“Black lives may matter, but not so much to Bernie,” Graham said.
Graham called Sanders an “avowed socialist,” and reminded the audience that Sanders went the Soviet Union for his honeymoon.
“I’m not sure he ever came back,” Graham quipped.
He also poked fun at Clinton’s famously tumultuous relationship with the White House staff when she was First Lady.
“The only demographic we’re beating her in is the people who take care of the first family in the White House,” he said.
“I can’t even believe this. The leading candidate on the other side is under investigation by the FBI,” he continued, referencing the Justice Department investigation into how classified information was handled when she was Secretary of State.
“All I can tell you is if we don’t win this election, when are we ever going to win one?” he said. “That’s not meant to be funny.”
He wrapped by donning Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” baseball cap and — saying he has the presidential curse — endorsed the billionaire businessman.
The only candidate to escape Graham’s humor: Ohio Governor John Kasich.