Why Lindsey Graham quoted ‘The Princess Bride’

Updated 9:18 PM EST, Tue December 15, 2015
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(CNN) —  

“The Princess Bride” appears to be the most quoted movie of the 2016 presidential primary race.

Normally, it’s Ted Cruz channeling Bill Crystal’s “Miracle Max,” a portrayal of actor Mandy Patinkin (aka “Inigo Montoya”) panned in a recent New York Times interview.

On Tuesday night, one-liner machine Lindsey Graham took his turn, paraphrasing Wallace Shawn’s “Vizzini” as he took a shot at Cruz’s foreign policy.

“Ted, getting in bed with Iran and Russia to save (Syrian President Bashar Al-)Assad is inconceivable!” Graham crowed. “Princess Buttercup would not like this.”

The quote was met with some delight, but also a fair bit of puzzlement.

“Who the hell is ‘princess buttercup’ & why is she being mentioned in the debate?” @RFrangie asked on Twitter, echoing the questions of many observers.

Fair question. Here’s a quick explanation.

In the 1987 film, Robin Wright’s Buttercup is saved by a lovestruck young boy named Westley, who must leave the farm to chase a fortune in order to win her hand in marriage.

But as Westley, played by Cary Elwes, sets about on his misadventures, Buttercup, believing him dead, agrees to marry the loathsome Prince Humperdinck.

Buttercup, though, never truly gives up her feelings for Westley. When she comes across the man believed to be his killer, Dread Pirate Roberts, she pushes him down a hill. But as he tumbles, the would-be pirate yells, “As you wish!” – the same line Westley once said to her, over and over, as a boy on the farm.

At this point, Buttercup realized the man she believed to be Dread Pirate Roberts is, in fact, her beloved.

So what point was Lindsey Graham trying to make on Tuesday night? Well, let’s just say he doesn’t think Ted Cruz is much of a Westley. And Princess Buttercup, well, she would not approve of his plans.

If that makes sense.