Presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has had it with billionaire Donald Trump, who is currently cresting in Republican Party primary polls after weeks of racist comments about undocumented immigrants.
This is starting to look like a GOP civil war: In a Sunday interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Sen. Graham told host Dana Bash that Trump came in like a "wrecking ball" and that if Republicans do not fight off people like him, "we will lose and we will deserve to lose."
"I think he's hijacked the debate," Graham said. "I think he's a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back."
"This is a defining moment for the Republican Party. We need to reject this," the senator added.
He cautioned that letting Trump the "demagogue" go unchallenged would devastate the party heading into the 2016 national elections, both electorally through alienating Latino voters and by squandering its "moral authority."
"I'm very worried about where we're headed as a party. I don't think this is the way to get the Latino vote," he continued. "If we do not reject this way of thinking clearly, without any ambiguity, we will have lost our way. If we don't reject it, we've lost the moral authority, in my view, to govern this country."
Why you should care: Despite, as Graham noted, Trump personally receiving a phone call from Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus asking him to tone down the anti-immigrant rhetoric, he has actually done the opposite and sped it up.
During speeches this weekend, he invited family members of people slain by undocumented immigrants to whip up crowds, accused the "Mexican government" of funding counter-protests outside his rallies and promised to force Mexico to fund the construction of an "impenetrable" border wall as well as sanction it $100,000 for every undocumented migrant that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border.
At the same time, Trump has shot to first or second place among GOP primary candidates partially as a result of voicing what other candidates are too cautious (or too smart) to say. What remains to be seen is just how seriously the Republican field will take the threat he poses to the party's electoral viability. It's easy for a distant contender like Graham to take on Trump but most other candidates see a grave risk in angering the vocal right-wing base he is currently trying to ride to the top.