None of this would be particularly eyebrow-raising – except that in many ways it's a sharp change of direction for Graham. Like his closest Senate ally, Arizona Sen. John McCain, Graham was until fairly recently most often seen as one of those "independent" Republicans who could give his own party more trouble than the opposition. As recently as 2010, a profile in The New York Times magazine described Graham as "contentedly discussing the various fellow South Carolina conservatives who dislike him – Tea Partiers, Constitutionalists, immigration hardliners," and noted that he had apparently logged more White House visits than any other Republican senator (other than, perhaps, Maine's Susan Collins).
Back then, Graham was known for working with Democrats on issues like comprehensive immigration reform and climate change. He voted for both of President Obama's Supreme Court picks, and has been a proponent of closing Guantánamo Bay.
He also received the lowest rating of all Republican senators from the anti-tax Club for Growth – whose president, Chris Chocola, suggested at a Monitor breakfast in September that they may support a primary challenge against Graham when he goes up for reelection in 2014.