Lindsey Graham after red trickle: ‘Hats off to the Democrats…’

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (R) embodied the establishment Tuesday night in a jovial appearance on NBC News where, before offering some advice to President Joe Biden ahead of the next Congress, he primed the corporate media narrative of “no red wave” by expressing “hats off to the Democrats.”

(Video: NBC News)

With polls still open on the West Coast, Graham helped kick off a pro-Democratic news cycle late Tuesday despite projections still showing likely Republican control of Congress. After months of behind-the-scenes machinations with political action committee funds and directed ads, the status quo remained intact and the senator touted his own success in the midterms.

NBC’s Savannah Guthrie welcomed the lawmaker in by touching on retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc’s (R) projected loss to incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in New Hampshire, “because here’s one where Republicans were feeling kind of good recently. But you do have General Bolduc, who it was controversial–election denier–from that wing of the party. How are you reading these tea leaves?”

“If you run that far behind your governor, kind of that you probably made a mistake. So, you know, General Bolduc served his country well, but, you know, [Gov. Chris] Sununu won big,” Graham argued. “Bolduc, you know, wouldn’t talk about what we should’ve done, I guess. Definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure.”

“I was in charge of Guam, so I want to take credit for that,” the senator said after the territory elected its first Republican representative since 1993 and then added his in-the-moment projection for the final outcome, “I think we’re going to be at 51, 52 when it’s all said and done, the Senate.”

Graham’s predictions had been much more optimistic hours earlier when that success had been announced and the approval of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was leading the Sunshine State to its own widespread victories.

While he kept the vein of that message in his responses, the lawmaker seemed far from upset as Lester Holt asked him about factors that projected a less-than-resounding triumph for the GOP.

“Let’s talk about the Donald Trump effect. There have been a couple of conversations around this table as it’s become apparent there’s not going to be a wave here and the question of whether his appearances along the way have actually hurt Republicans. Do you give that any credence?” Holt asked.

“You know, not really. I think it was a referendum on Biden. You know, if we take back the House and we get the Senate majority, that’s a very good night. A wave would have been like New Hampshire and Colorado,” Graham contended before stating, “So, you know, you gotta–hats off to the Democrats. They performed well in a lot of these swing districts. You know, a couple of days from now, we’ll know better.”

On the subject, the senator closed by showing strong Republican control was not the outcome the establishment ever wanted as a near 50/50 split would allow for the typical dealmaking that most benefits fixtures on Capitol Hill with added “unsolicited advice” for the president.

“But at the end of the day, guys, if we take the House and the Senate, we’re going to have to sit down as a country and figure out what to do with it. Some unsolicited advice to President Biden: If we do take the House and we do take the Senate, let’s all go to the border and see if we can find a way to fix it,” he said. “I’ve got a bill with Elizabeth Warren, believe it or not, to regulate social media. Maybe we could do something in energy, in the energy space. So if it’s a divided government, maybe some good can come of it.”

As to 2024 and the former president’s attempts to posture against a potential challenge from DeSantis, Graham said, “Take it for what it’s worth.”


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