Lindsey Graham says the Republican Party 'can't grow' without Trump

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lindsey graham
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Republican party cannot move forward without former President Donald Trump.

  • His comments come amid bitter internal GOP disputes about Trump's future role in the party.

  • "I've determined we can't grow without [Trump]," Sen. Lindsey Graham said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said the Republican Party "can't grow" without former President Donald Trump amid a bitter internal row about the GOP's long-term political direction.

"Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no," said South Carolina Sen. Graham in an interview with Fox News Thursday.

"I've always liked Liz Cheney but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him," he said.

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The Republican lawmakers' comments come amid intense debate among Republican lawmakers about the future direction of the party, over which Trump continues to exert a strong grip.

Republicans including Rep. Liz Cheney have faced strong criticism in recent months for saying the Republican party should distance itself from Trump's legacy, which they see as toxic.

Meanwhile, Sen. Graham echoed the views of many colleagues by saying voters wanted the "Trump Republican party" of "economic populism" and the "America First agenda."

"If you don't get that as a Republican you're making the biggest mistake in the history of the Republican party," he said.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third most senior House Republican, has faced intense criticism in recent weeks as she continues to criticize the former president. Trump in April called her a "warmongering fool" and made repeated pledges to try and end her political career.

House Republicans are reportedly plotting to replace Cheney as House Republican Conference chair with a more Trump-friendly candidate.

Graham said that the future of populism lay in the "Trump Republican party" of "economic populism" and the "America First agenda."

Graham criticized Trump after the Capitol riot on January 6 but has remained close to him since, and was spotted golfing with him in Florida last month.

The senator in March said that he continued to support Trump because "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," he said.

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