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Lindsey Graham says he won’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics, says he will not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton for president this year.

Graham says in a statement Friday he “cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.”

South Carolina’s senior senator also says he will join a growing list of veteran Republicans, including both Presidents Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain and others, now declining to attend the party’s convention this summer in Cleveland, Ohio.

Graham ran his own 2016 campaign for president, and was early to attack Trump in the starkest of terms — telling voters they should tell Trump he should “go to hell.”

“He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” Graham told CNN late last year.

Trump responded in kind, even releasing Graham’s personal cell phone number in public.

Graham’s refusal to support Trump is another stark illustration of the schism within the GOP — especially in the field of candidates who ran for president.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was Trump’s first opponent to criticize his conservative credentials. But now, Perry tells CNN, he supports Trump.

“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them,” Perry told CNN about Trump Thursday.

Though he is a conservative Republican, Graham worked with Clinton on several issues in the Senate. Still he says he can’t vote for Clinton for president, arguing that she represents a third term of Barack Obama.

Graham endorsed Jeb Bush after ending his own White House bid, and then even backed Sen. Ted Cruz, a colleague he had openly said he disliked.

But now he says he will turn his attention to electing Republicans to Congress.

“I will enthusiastically support Republicans for other offices in South Carolina and throughout the country. I will focus my time, energy and effort on raising resources and advocating for our Republican majorities in the House and Senate,” he said.

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