Graham seems to change attitude on Trump: "I like what I see"

Published: Aug. 25, 2016 at 3:24 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2016 at 12:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Could a softer, more focused, and more disciplined Donald Trump win over a very vocal Palmetto State critic?

For a while now, Sen. Lindsey Graham has let Trump hear it and vowed he would not vote for Trump.

Graham's tone is certainly a different one now. He was joined by three of his Republican colleagues from the United States House: Congressmen Joe Wilson, Tom Rice, and Mark Sanford. They were in Columbia for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce's Washington Night.

RELATED: See some of Donald Trump's most controversial statements.

Afterward, Graham, Wilson, and Sanford talked to WIS about Trump, the state of the race, and a new poll that shows Trump and Clinton tied here in South Carolina.

In the past, Senator Lindsey Graham has lobbed some harsh words like, "Tell Donald Trump to go to hell" and "My party has gone bat**** crazy" at Donald Trump. But now, the senator's tune is a bit different.

"When it comes to Donald Trump, I like what I see," Graham said.

RELATED: See the Republicans who will not support Donald Trump for president.

After a forum in Columbia with colleagues from the House, Graham told WIS the Republican nominee has surprised him over the past week or so.

"He's articulated a plan against ISIL that makes sense to me. He's now talking about understanding the difference between a drug dealer and a grandmother as an illegal immigrant."

Graham hopes the media reports are true that Trump will soften his stance on illegal immigration. Senator Graham has also noticed Trump's attempt to court votes from minorities: all good things to Graham.

"Donald Trump's biggest problem is himself. He's seen as not having the judgment, temperament, or experience for the job. If he can project that he's ready to be President of the United States, people don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton. He's got to cross that threshold."

Meanwhile, a new poll commissioned by the state Democratic party shows Trump and Clinton tied in the Palmetto State.

"There is no doubt in my mind Donald Trump will win South Carolina presidentially."

"Well, it would be my view that, actually, Mr. Trump will do well here," Rep. Joe Wilson said.

While Graham and Wilson don't believe the poll holds water, Congressman Mark Sanford has a somewhat different opinion.

"It sounds still a bit unbelievable in the state of South Carolina, so I don't give it credence in terms of actual numbers, but I've heard a number of different anecdotal stories that fit with it," Sanford said. "I was at a diner in Lobeco, South Carolina of all places, and the proprietor there said she had voted Republican for the last 30 years of her life, but she wasn't going to do it this year."

Sanford and Wilson have said they'll support Trump. Graham has said he won't vote for him, but now, his answer isn't as firm.

"Let's just see what happens. All I want to do is encourage Donald Trump to be a leader that can bring us together," Graham said.

While Graham said the poll isn't accurate and Trump will win this state, he did say South Carolina could go 'blue' in a decade or less if Republicans don't sell Conservatism to a broader audience.

Meanwhile, Sanford said he'd like to see Trump release his tax returns for the sake of transparency and tradition.

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