In this June 16, 2015 file photo, Donald Trump announces that he seek the Republican nomination for president, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Philip Rucker, THE WASHINGTON POST

 
WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) — Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump’s derogatory commentary has begun inflicting permanent and possibly fatal damage to the Republican Party brand and urged GOP leaders to stop “tiptoeing” around the billionaire businessman and to confront him directly and unequivocally.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Graham said Trump’s personal attacks on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after she questioned him in Thursday night’s primary debate were “an affront to all women” and undermine the Republican Party’s urgent mission to appeal to more women voters.

“I think we’ve crossed that Rubicon, where his behavior becomes about us, not just him,” Graham said. “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. 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’s comments came after Trump hurled insults at Kelly in a Friday night appearance on CNN. He called her a “lightweight” and suggested that she asked him aggressive and “ridiculous” questions in the debate.

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