(CNN) – South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham clarified comments he made Thursday in which he called New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a "bully."
Graham told NBC News that New Jersey's unfolding bridge scandal furthers a "troublesome" narrative about Christie, calling the governor “kind of a bully.” Graham told CNN those comments were made before he saw Christie’s news conference in which the governor apologized for the political payback scandal and continued to insist that he had no knowledge of his aides' actions.
“I finally got to see portions of the news conference. I’m very impressed with the contrite nature in taking responsibility. In today’s political environment it was a breath of fresh air and I think he handled it as well as he could," Graham told CNN.
“It was very impressive," he continued. "I don’t know the guy that well. The allegations, they’re not well, but I just watched it for 15-20 minutes and I’m very impressed. He took every question, didn’t dodge, I think he went a long way to helping himself today.”
Emails that emerged this week bolstered suspicions that last year's lane closures to the George Washington Bridge that caused mass havoc on the first day of school were a form of political retaliation against the town's mayor, a Democrat, who did not endorse Christie's reelection, by staff in the Christie administration.
Christie is seen as a likely 2016 presidential candidate and the scandal could make his path to the White House more difficult.
In his comments to NBC, Graham, who is up for reelection this year, also said Christie would have trouble winning votes in the South, pointing to the Garden State governor's more moderate stance on social issues.
CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.