S.C. senators refocus after state’s GOP primary

Sen. Tim Scott announces Marco Rubio during a morning stop in Mount Pleasant at the Omar Shrine Temple last week.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham are back on Capitol Hill, looking ahead to what comes next in the 2016 election cycle and what role they might play.

Scott plans to continue campaigning with Marco Rubio, whom Scott endorsed and who came in second behind Donald Trump in last week’s South Carolina GOP presidential primary.

“I’ll be in Georgia on Sunday,” Scott told The Post and Courier. Georgia is part of the cluster of states to hold primaries on March 1 in what’s known as “Super Tuesday.”

Graham, meanwhile, perhaps has bigger decisions to make about the extent to which he’ll stay involved in campaign politics. He was himself a candidate until the end of last year, and since January has been a surrogate for Jeb Bush, who exited the race after a weak finish in the South Carolina primary.

At this point, Graham said he doesn’t have immediate plans to get back out on the trail unless he’s asked. “I’ll do anything I can to help our cause, but I’ve had my say about myself and Jeb,” Graham told reporters Tuesday. “I’m running out of adjectives to describe how bad I think Donald Trump is for the party and for the country. So I don’t know what more I can do.”

Graham did have an opinion on who might have the strongest chance of prevailing in a general election, however. “I think Kasich-Rubio would be the most electable ticket. I think Rubio-Kasich would be a close second,” Graham said. “If you can get those two guys together, that would be a winning ticket in the fall, in my view.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is polling low but has large appeal among those who consider themselves “establishment” Republicans. Graham didn’t elaborate on why he thought Kasich at the top of the GOP presidential ticket was the best strategy. As for why he doesn’t just go ahead and endorse, Graham replied, “I can’t endorse both of them!”

“Let them decide what they want to do,” Graham continued, “but it’s not rocket science. If you can get these two guys together that would be a powerful ticket and it would probably stop Trump. If you don’t, Trump’s going to win (the nomination) ... and then he’s going to lose.”

Gov. Nikki Haley’s office has not released a schedule indicating whether she will be out stumping for Rubio, who she endorsed last week.

Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington, D.C. correspondent.