Graham offers lukewarm endorsement of Cruz, admits they 'have many differences'

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he'll help Ted Cruz raise campaign cash in the hope of stopping Donald Trump's march toward the Republican presidential nomination.

Graham dropped his own longshot candidacy in December and has been a scathing critic of the Texas Republican in the past.

"It pales in comparison to my differences with Trump," Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday. "I think Ted Cruz is a reliable Republican: Strong on Israel, would repeal and replace Obamacare, would be good on the Supreme Court. So we have many things in common but we also have many differences."

But in a CNN interview last month, Graham pulled no punches in his assessment on Cruz, who is unpopular among his Senate colleagues.

"If you're a Republican and your choice is Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in a general election," Graham told CNN, "it's the difference between poisoned or shot — you're still dead."

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Graham, R-S.C., still says Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich is his preferred candidate but said Thursday, "I don't see John having the path that Ted does in terms of stopping Trump, which is most important to me."

Graham joked at a Washington dinner last month that "a good Republican would defend Ted Cruz. ... That ain't happening. If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you."

At last month's Washington Press Club Foundation dinner, Graham added: "I was asked the hardest question of my political life: Do you agree with Donald Trump that Ted Cruz is the biggest liar in politics? Too close to call."

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