Sen. Lindsey Graham joked about the rocky start to his relationship with President Donald Trump in a speech Thursday.
“So President Trump and I did not start off well,” the South Carolina Republican said at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington. “I remember being there the night he got elected and he said, ‘Hey, Lindsey, I don’t have your phone number,’ and I said, ‘There’s a reason for that.’ “
Graham was a primary opponent of Trump’s in 2016 and one of Trump’s harshest critics within the GOP leading up to, and immediately after, the 2016 election.
Graham has since fallen in behind the President as a fierce supporter. He told CNN in October that although Trump “can be a handful,” he wants to see the President succeed and enjoys the ability to influence Trump by staying in the President’s corner.
He repeated those sentiments Thursday.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that he talks to me and asks my opinion,” Graham said. “And we’ve got a lot in common now: I like him and he likes him.”
Graham’s speech was peppered with compliments for the President’s conduct in his first two years in office. Pausing for cheers from the audience, he highlighted Trump’s foreign policy record on Israel, Iran, North Korea and the Taliban.
Graham also drew attention to one of his most visible displays of support for Trump: the confirmation process last fall of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
In the midst of emotional testimony from Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford over sexual assault allegations stemming from Kavanaugh’s time in high school, Graham forcefully lashed out at Democrats in defense of the nominee and Trump.
He charged during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that the Democrats were playing political games and seeking to “destroy” Kavanaugh.
Graham alluded to those comments at CPAC, asking attendees whether they were angry too. He said the President had done what few in Washington would do and was truly “draining the swamp” when he stood by Kavanaugh despite Ford’s allegations.
“I’ve never been more proud of President Trump than I was during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing,” Graham said.