Lindsey Graham talks to reporters

Lindsey Graham Grudgingly Backs Former GOP Rival Ted Cruz

Lindsey Graham has thrown his support behind long-time political rival Ted Cruz, calling him “the best alternative” to Donald Trump.

Despite making clear that Cruz is not his preferred candidate, Graham pledged to “help Ted” in every way he can in order to prevent Trump from bagging the Republican nomination this summer.

Graham is now planning to headline a major fundraiser in support of Cruz’s presidential bid. The invitation calls on guests to “honor and support a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” at a meet-and-greet event scheduled to coincide with the AIPAC policy conference in Washington on Monday.

The fundraiser will take place at Clyde’s Gallery Place, and tickets start at $1,000 each.

“I think he’s the best alternative to beat Donald Trump,” Graham told CNN. “I’m going to help Ted in any way I can.”

The senior South Carolina senator had been chasing his own dreams of snagging the Oval Office until December – when he suspended his presidential campaign due to a lack of support.

Graham subsequently went on to endorse former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for president before launching a series of scathing attacks targeting GOP frontrunners Trump and Cruz.

Jeb Bush smiles
Before backing Cruz, Graham had previously endorsed Jeb Bush. [Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images]
“It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?”Graham said in January of the choice between Trump and Cruz. “Donald Trump I think is the most unprepared person I’ve ever met to be commander in chief. And when it comes to Senator Cruz, he’s exhibited behavior in his time in the Senate that make it impossible for me to believe that he could bring this country together.”

Last month, Graham took that offensive a step further by insinuating he could murder Cruz and no one would even care.

“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” Graham told colleagues at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner.

Yet in a bid to disrupt Donald Trump’s formidable lead, the South Carolina senator has clearly ruled Cruz to be the lesser of two evils.

“I have doubts about Mr. Trump,” Graham said Thursday. “I don’t think he’s a Republican, I don’t think he’s a conservative, I think his campaign’s built on xenophobia, race-baiting and religious bigotry, I think he’d be a disaster for our party and as Senator Cruz would not be my first choice, I think he is a Republican conservative who I could support.”

Graham and Cruz are natural allies on a number of issues. Both senators ardently support extending the Keystone XL pipeline, have pledged to repeal Obamacare, and are keen to see a fundamental conservative take the available Supreme Court seat.

Ted Cruz speech
Lindsey Graham thinks Ted Cruz is “the best alternative” to Donald Trump. [Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images]
That being said, Graham argued this week that he actually believes Ohio Governor John Kasich to be the most “viable” remaining candidate in the GOP race – but admitted Kasich simply cannot compete with Trump’s numbers.

“John Kasich is the most viable general election candidate,” Graham said. “I just don’t see how John gets through the primary.”

Cruz will no doubt be hopeful that Lindsey Graham’s rock star status within the U.S. Senate will generate further support from his Washington colleagues. Cruz only picked up his first Senate endorsement last week, from Utah’s Mike Lee.

That being said, it will take a lot more than Graham’s backing in order to jettison Cruz within striking distance of Donald Trump.

The GOP frontrunner has already stolen 673 of the 1,237 delegates needed to earn the Republican Party nomination. Trump currently enjoys a 14.2 percent lead over Cruz, according to pollsters at RealClearPolitics.

[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]