Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Sunday that he favored former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) as a 2016 presidential candidate, but no Republican could win unless comprehensive immigration reform was passed because the party was in a “demographic death spiral.”
“I think we’re going to have a political breakthrough, the Congress is going to pass immigration reform,” Graham told NBC host David Gregory. “I think we’re going to get plus 70 [votes in the Senate], I’ve never been more optimistic about it.”
Gregory wondered if Graham thought that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) meeting last week with former President Bill Clinton (D) would boost his prospects for a 2016 presidential run.
“Bill Clinton doesn’t have a whole lot of sway, but he’s a popular figure,” Graham laughed. “The faith based groups were courted by leading candidates… I would suggest a guy like Jeb Bush would have a really good chance in 2016, a former governor or a governor. But you’ve got Marco [Rubio], you’ve got Paul Ryan. The good news is we’ve got a deep bench, and after eight years of President Obama’s economic policies and, quite frankly, foreign policy, people are going to be looking around.”
The South Carolina Republican added: “But if we don’t pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table and in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016. We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party. And the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who we run in my view.”
Watch this video from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast June 16, 2013.