Former Graham supporter: 'What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend?'

Former Graham supporter: 'What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend?'
Lindsey Graham image via Screengrab.

Richard Wilkerson, the retired chairman and president of Michelin North America, used to be a big supporter of Sen. Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham. The South Carolinian bigwig has decided this cycle he's endorsing Graham's Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, and he's doing it in a big way. That includes an op-ed in the Greenville News.

Wilkerson writes that he started have "real misgivings" about Graham, who he supported until 2017, when Donald Trump attacked the man who was supposedly Graham's friend, the Sen. John McCain. "I asked myself, 'What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won't defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?'" He concluded that Graham "was more interested in currying favor than in honoring the memory of a true American hero whom he had described as his best friend." The man Wilkerson previously thought of as a moderate who would put country first became "a leader of […] divisiveness," and "his criticism of the behavior of the president morphed into blind defense." In other, non-Wilkerson words, Graham turned into Trump's toady.

Coming from a really rich guy, this part is stunning, too: Wilkerson abandoned Graham because "he supported tax change that disproportionately favored those who are financially well off while providing a comparatively small benefit to working people." He's also appalled that Graham opposed increased unemployment payments to workers left out of jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis. "Apparently, he feels that it is OK to share government dollars with those who don’t truly need the money, but deny any small windfall to working people who have lost their jobs. These two actions tell me who is important to him, and I do not agree with his direction."

Wilkerson's not just done with Graham, he's genuinely excited about Harrison. "I had known Jaime for years," he writes, "and had been impressed with his intelligence, his genuine warmth and concern for all people, and his moderate stance on the issues that confront us." Yes, Wilkerson is another one of those never-Trumper Republicans who imagines a happier world gone by in which the Republicans hadn't made political life in the U.S. so toxic.

But this is a never-Trumper who's actually doing something helpful for the nation. He's using his megaphone and his money where it can help—taking out a really, really obnoxious Republican and, just maybe, ending Mitch McConnell's majority.

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