POLITICS

Graham: GOP is 'losing Hispanic vote' because of 'garbage' uttered by Trump, Cruz

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03:  Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Candidates spoke and took questions from Jewish leaders and activists.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. Candidates spoke and took questions from Jewish leaders and activists. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

A visibly upset Lindsey Graham slammed his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls Thursday in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, decrying many of his rivals' stances on issues like immigration.

Following on the heels of a speech to the same group by firebrand Texas lawmaker Ted Cruz, the South Carolina senator's words took many in the Washington, D.C., audience by surprise.

"How many of you believe we lose elections because we're not hard-ass enough on immigration?" Graham asked after taking the stage, according to the Hill. "I believe we're losing the Hispanic vote because they think we don't like them."

Taking a shot a Cruz, who harped on getting the evangelical vote to come out on election day, Graham said, "It's not about turning out evangelical Christians but about repairing the damage done by incredibly hateful rhetoric [that's] driving a wall between us and the fastest growing demographic in America who should be Republicans."

Graham, who sits at the bottom of the national polls despite two strong performances at the undercard debates, also lashed out at the GOP frontrunner.

"I believe Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party," Graham said. The South Carolina senator then took aim at the real estate tycoon's controversial stance on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

"It's not self-deportation, it's forced deportation," Graham said.  "We're going to round them all up?"

"That is the leader of the Republican Party," he added, according to Time. "You think you are going to win an election with that kind of garbage?"

Like his longtime friend and former GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Graham, who leans more moderate on social issues than many of his rivals, is still a hawk when it comes to national security and foreign policy. He used his time onstage in Washington to appeal to Jewish voters by calling for the immediate repeal of the Iran nuclear deal. He also stressed his continuing support for Israel.

Then he made an appeal to the audience that referenced his sagging poll numbers.

"I'm at 1 percent. The election is a long way away," he said. "Help me stay in this race."

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