Republican ex-candidate Graham endorses Jeb Bush

Republican ex-candidate Graham endorses Jeb Bush
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  • Lindsey Graham
    Lindsey Graham
    American politician
  • Jeb Bush
    Jeb Bush
    American politician, former Governor of Florida

Washington (AFP) - Senator Lindsey Graham, the hawkish Republican whose 2016 primary campaign fizzled despite his persistent call for resetting US national security policy, announced Friday he is endorsing Jeb Bush for president.

"I have concluded without any hesitation, without any doubt, that Jeb Bush is ready on Day One to be a commander-in-chief worthy of the sacrifices of the one percent who have been fighting this war," Graham said at a press conference with Bush at his side.

Graham throughout his own campaign advocated a military intervention of some 10,000 US troops in Syria to battle so-called Islamic State extremists.

Bush, he said, "understands that America can't go it alone, but of all others running for president I think he has the ability to bring the world on board."

Graham dropped out of the race last month, registering about one percent support.

It may not be the most coveted of endorsements -- 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's would be far more valuable. But Graham hails from South Carolina, and his nod could be important for Bush's chances in the state, which votes February 20, third in the primary race after Iowa and New Hampshire.

Bush, brother to one president and the son of another, is languishing at about five percent in national polls, substantially trailing frontrunner Donald Trump, who enjoys 35 percent support and other rivals, including senators Ted Cruz and March Rubio.

Graham took a shot at bombastic billionaire Trump, slamming his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States as disastrous.

Jeb "hasn't tried to get ahead in a contested primary by embracing demagoguery. He is not running to be commander in chief by running people down," Graham said.

"On February 20, we're going to give Jeb Bush the momentum that he needs and deserves to win the nomination," Graham added.

He also said he liked Rubio, the youthful Cuban-American from Florida in his first term in the Senate, but suggested he is too inexperienced to be commander in chief.

"I believe Marco Rubio will one day be president of the United States," Graham said. "But at 44 I wasn't ready to be president."

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