Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham called on party leaders to stop "tiptoeing" around Donald Trump and directly confront him because his negative comments place the GOP brand in jeopardy.
"I think we’ve crossed that Rubicon, where his behavior becomes about us, not just him," the South Carolina senator told The Washington Post.
"I hope the party leadership will push hard. I hope that those seeking the nomination to be the standard bearer will unequivocally reject this.
"People gave Mr. Trump a pass on the [debate] stage," he added, referring to Thursday's prime-time forum in Cleveland. "I understand that to a point, but we’ve crossed a line here that can’t be ignored.
"There can be no more tiptoeing around this," Graham said.
The senator was referring to negative attacks Trump lobbed on Friday against Fox News host Megyn Kelly, one of three Fox moderators for the two-hour debate.
Trump accused Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace of "having an agenda" — attacking Kelly as "lightweight" because he had asked him aggressive and "ridiculous" questions in the debate.
Graham did not make the cut for Thursday's prime-time session. He was among seven candidates participating in a one-hour forum before the main event.
"Everything is being placed in jeopardy by the antics of Mr. Trump and we’re at a crossroads as a party," Graham told the Post. "The good news is that 24 million people watched the Republican debate. The bad news is that 24 million people watched the Republican debate."
The senator urged other GOP candidates, as well as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, to say definitively that Trump's message "is not who we are, not where we're going to take the country and not what we believe."
"It’s just like driving by a car wreck without rendering aid," Graham told the Post. "Donald Trump is an out-of-control car driving through a crowd of Republicans — and somebody needs to get him out of the car.
"I just don’t see a pathway forward for us in 2016 to win the White House if we don’t decisively deal with this."
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