Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said that former President Donald Trump should not make endorsements in Missouri and Alabama after two GOP senators announced they would retire soon.
“I think he should just let it play out, if I were him,” Graham told reporters, referring to the former commander-in-chief. “I just think you want to just make sure some of your best candidates emerge.”
In recent weeks, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced they would be retiring in 2022.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), a strong Trump supporter who was the first lawmaker to announce he would challenge states’ election results on Jan. 6, announced this week that he will run for senator in Alabama. Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, announced he would seek Blunt’s seat during a Fox News interview.
“I said you’re the leader of the party, whether we win or not, and 2022 matters to you. If we come back, you’ll get your fair share of credit,” Graham said, referring to a conversation he had with Trump over the weekend.
Graham told reporters that he spoke to Trump about his endorsement of former NFL running back-turned-political-pundit Herschel Walker for senator in Georgia against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). Walker has not confirmed whether he will run.
“Like Herschel Walker, I think Herschel Walker would be a good candidate. But I don’t know, I’ve never tested Herschel, I don’t know,” the South Carolina Republican told reporters. “So the bottom line is, you are the team captain. Make sure your best team is on the field. May not be your favorite player but it’s the one that can play the position best. So it’s a constant reinforcing the message that success in 2022 in the House, in the Senate, helps you, helps us all.”
Graham was also asked by a reporter about whether he supports Trump’s announcement to support a GOP primary challenger against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted to convict the former president during the impeachment trial last month.
“I’ll let him figure out what to do with Lisa. I like Lisa. I think she does a good job, but there’s a history there that’s not going to be changed. So I’m focusing on things that can be changed,” Graham said.
Other than Walker, Trump has endorsed a number of other Republican primary candidates in recent weeks, opting to make these announcements via email. On Monday, Trump endorsed Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) in the GOP primary against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
The former president also endorsed the reelections of Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas).