WASHINGTON — Senator Lindsey Graham makes no pretense about it. He wants to be where the action is.
“I’m in the center of a lot of important debates — I like that,” Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has carved out a role for himself as this city’s resident maverick, said in an interview on Monday. “I want to be a conservative who can put conservative principles in play on hard issues.”
So Mr. Graham, a cherubic-looking 54-year-old, has been busy this year, reaching out to Democrats in an effort to broker deals on hot-button issues like energy and immigration and closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay. As the rare member of his party who is consistently willing to cross the aisle, he has filled a niche once occupied by his close friend and mentor, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican.
Now, though, Mr. Graham’s position as the go-to Republican for the Obama White House is in doubt. Over the weekend, he abruptly reversed course, backing out of plans to unveil a long-awaited bipartisan energy bill — a high priority for President Obama. He has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday to urge the Senate Democratic leadership to put off debate on another of his priorities, an immigration overhaul.