Supreme Court Kavanaugh

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.  AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

In 2018, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham went from being a reliable Republican rabble-rouser to an overnight GOP sensation in the party of President Donald Trump.

When Graham erupted in anger during the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he used his time to blast Democrats for what he called "the most unethical sham" he has seen during his 15 years in politics.

When Graham openly mourned the death of his best friend U.S. Sen. John McCain, he wept on the floor of the Senate for a man who he said will "reinforce the idea that nothing is inevitable as long as a few people are willing to fight for what they believe is right."

And when the 2018 midterms came knocking, Graham was tapped to travel the nation to campaign for his fellow Republicans as a household name in his own right.

Graham, who had called Trump a "kook" and a "jackass" when he was running against him in 2016 as a presidential candidate, has now embraced a new role as one of Trump's closest allies. 

The Seneca Republican picks up the phone when Trump calls and frequently golfs with him. When he's not in direct contact with Trump, Graham opts to speak directly to the president through TV interviews, invoking his name and giving the 45th president advice over the airwaves.

Already, his efforts as a one of Trump's loyal supporters is showing signs of reward.

In his home state, Graham's approval rating among GOP voters is now soaring. For him, the timing couldn't be better: He's up for re-election in 2020 and soon will chair the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.