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Dec 11, 2015 3:54 PM

Steinhauser: Graham tells Trump to 'shut the hell up'

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Lindsey Graham says Donald Trump needs to “shut the hell up.”

The senator from South Carolina and Republican presidential candidate criticized the GOP front runner during a sit-down interview Friday at the NH1 News studios.

And Graham, a long shot for the GOP nomination, admitted that if his poll numbers “don’t start moving,” it’s going to be hard for him “to stay in this race.”

Graham spoke with NH1 News the morning after Trump briefly returned to New Hampshire. Thursday night in Portsmouth, Trump said “we’ve had a pretty interesting couple of days, we have people talking. I will tell you that.”

And Trump wasn’t kidding.

Trump shocking announcement Monday in calling for a ban on allowing Muslims into the country drew harsh pushback all week from both Democrats and fellow Republicans.

But two polls conducted after Trump’s controversial comments indicated that a majority of Republican primary voters agreed with his call for a temporary ban on giving visas to Muslims.

Trump said Thursday night that “we have them talking positively, because people are saying ‘you know Trump is right’.”

But Graham disagreed.

Asked if Trump’s proposed ban is making the fight against ISIS harder, Graham said “If you ask me the single worst thing an American political leader could do, he did, which is declare war on the faith itself.”

“What Donald Trump has done is basically turned this into a narrative that ISIL and Al Qaeda can use against us, saying ‘I told you they didn’t like us, they didn’t like Islam.’ And he’s made it hard to bring people on board,” he added.

Asked what he would tell Trump if the GOP front runner was sitting next to him, Graham said “you’ve put our soldiers and diplomats at risk. Just shut the hell up. If you don’t know what you’re talking about just shut up.”

“No matter what you meant so say, here’s how it plays. Our allies have to be astonished that we would ban their religion, a great religion, 99% of the people reject ISIL and Al Qaeda in the faith. The way you win the war is partner with people in the faith. You’ve made it very hard Donald to partner with people in the faith. You’ve made it hard on our friends in Egypt and Jordan who want to help us,” he added.

Graham said he understood why Trump was receiving so much media attention. But he added “here’s what I would like to have as a more balanced approach to the primary. Don’t reward the guy who says the most outrageous thing. Reward people who have something to say that you think the public needs to hear as an alternative to Donald Trump. It’s not so much as shutting him down as elevating the rest of us.”

Graham’s been spending a lot of time campaigning in New Hampshire, doing one retail event after another. But his poll numbers in the first-in-the-nation primary state have yet to inch above one percent.

Asked if he’s considered dropping his White House bid, Graham told NH1 News “if I don’t start moving it’s going to be harder to stay in this race. And it’s always been about New Hampshire. If I don’t do well here I’ll reevaluate and help somebody else. It’s not just about staying in until the South Carolina primary.”

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