Lindsey Graham Warns Donald Trump Could 'Destroy' GOP After Combative CPAC Speech

Senator Lindsey Graham has warned that former President Donald Trump could destroy the Republican Party or rebuild it as a bigger and more diverse coalition after his combative speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Speaking to Axios on HBO, the South Carolina Republican said Trump was a "bigger-than-life deal," and argued that he had the power to either make the GOP stronger or bring it to its knees.

He added that the former president had a "dark side" but also "some magic there," as he claimed to be trying to "harness the magic" of the former commander-in-chief.

"There's something about Trump. There's a dark side and there's some magic there. What I'm trying to do is just harness the magic," Graham told Axios. "To me, Donald Trump is a sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, and P.T. Barnum."

.@LindseyGrahamSC to @jonathanvswan: “[Trump] could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know can make it. He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse."

"And he also could destroy it.” #AxiosOnHBO

— Axios (@axios) March 7, 2021

The senator added: "I mean it's just this bigger-than-life deal. He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know can make it.

"He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it." Newsweek has contacted Trump's office for further comment.

Graham warned that Trump had the power to destroy the Republican Party after the former president took aim at "Republicans in Name Only," or RINOs, in a keynote speech at CPAC 2021.

Speaking to conservative activists, he said: "The RINOs that we're surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party and the American worker and will destroy our country itself. The RINOs, Republican in name only.

"But the Republican Party is united. The only division is between a handful of Washington, D.C. establishment, political hacks, and everybody else all over the country. I think we have tremendous unity."

Trump has since said he plans to campaign against the moderate GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski in the 2022 midterm elections, calling her "very bad" and "disloyal" after she voted with six other Republicans to convict on a charge of incitement of insurrection in February.

"I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski," Trump said. "She represents her state badly and her country even worse."

Politico also reported on Saturday that Trump had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee for using his name and image in fundraising efforts.

Senator Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. He has warned that Donald Trump has the power to make the GOP bigger, or destroy it. Alex Wong/Getty Images