Senator Lindsey Graham, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, on Sunday said fellow candidate Donald Trump is a "wrecking ball" who has put the Republican Party's future on the line with his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Speaking in an interview with CNN, Graham said, "I think he's hijacked the debate. I think he's a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back.”
"This is a defining moment for the Republican Party. We need to reject this," added Graham.
The South Carolina Republican who is competing against Trump and more than a dozen others for the party's presidential nomination is among the GOP's biggest proponents of immigration reform.
He said he'd still like to double U.S. border patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border and triple the number of drones monitoring the area.
But he said Trump — who he called a "demagogue" — is hurting the party's ability to court an increasingly important voter bloc in key swing states.
"I'm very worried about where we're headed as a party. I don't think this is the way to get the Latino vote," Graham told CNN. "If we do not reject this way of thinking clearly, without any ambiguity, we will have lost our way. If we don't reject it, we've lost the moral authority, in my view, to govern this country."
Trump has stuck by his assertion that most Mexican immigrants are criminals, and has insisted he'd build an impenetrable wall — which he'd make the Mexican government pay for.
His recent comments angered the Spanish-language Univision network, which announced it would cut ties with Trump and pull its Spanish-language coverage of the Miss USA beauty pageant which Trump co-owns. In response, Trump threatened to sue the network.
Beyond the lawsuit, Trump also attacked fellow presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as well as her supporter Haim Saban, an Israeli businessman whose investment firm owns Univision, of being the real forces behind the broadcast's cancellation.