During a Wednesday interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt, Sen. Lindsey Graham responded to Sen. John McCain’s statement that he wanted Graham, who he calls his “illegitimate son,” to run for the presidency in 2016.
Graham told Hewitt that if he runs, he’s “doing it to make a statement” and to “change the country.”
HEWITT: I have to change to politics, because yesterday Senator McCain called you his illegitimate son, and said that he wants you running for president. Is your presidential campaign a single state/favorite son? Or if you do it, will you be on all the ballots?
GRAHAM: If I do it, I’ll be on all the ballots. I’m not doing it to make a statement. I’m doing it to change the country and offer what I have to offer to the American people, and to my party. And I think I’m uniquely qualified to deal with the threats we’re talking about. So when I hear a United States Senator trying to rationalize that Iraq created the problems in France, and when I hear some libertarians on my side of the aisle associated with the Republican Party say that it is our interventionist policy that has brought people down on us, they don’t know what they’re talking about. When I hear the president of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me. And I want to be somebody who can talk about the world as it really is.
HEWITT: And what was your reaction to Mitt Romney’s declaration of reentry into presidential politics?
GRAHAM: Probably no finer man ever run for the office. He’s one of the most decent people I’ve ever met. I don’t know if the third time is the charm. I do know this. If he runs for president again, and he embraces self-deportation as a way of solving the immigration problem, we’re going to have a problem as Republicans in general. I don’t know where Mitt is coming from, from the third time around. He’s a decent fellow. He’s a talented fellow. I’m sure he hears all over the country, God, I wish you were president. But at the end of the day, it won’t be about what Mitt does that drives my thinking. It will be about what I feel like I can do. And if there’s a pathway forward, credible pathway forward, a competitive pathway forward, I will take it.
HEWITT: When do you have to make that decision by, Lindsey Graham?
GRAHAM: I think in the next few months. I’ve got to look and see. I know I do well in South Carolina. I should, because that’s where I’m from. But you can’t be president of South Carolina. So I’m going to have to look and see. Is there a lane for a guy who really does understand the threats we face regarding our national security, understands the consequences of sequestration’s ability to defend ourselves? Is there a lane for a guy like me who will say you’ve got to reform immigration, not just secure the border, but rationally deal with the 11 million? At the end of the day, I don’t know until I look.
HEWITT: Last question. Is there…
GRAHAM: But I’m getting encouragement to look, so we’ll see.