Stressing National Security Experience, Lindsey Graham Announces Run For President

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he will seek the White House in 2016, offering himself as a national security hawk in a crowded Republican primary.

“I’ve got one simple message,” he said. “I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. And that includes you, Hillary.”

Making his announcement in his hometown of Central, S.C., Graham becomes the ninth Republican to formally enter the race.

“I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much from all threats foreign and domestic,” Graham said. “So get ready. I know I’m ready.”

Graham spent much of his speech talking foreign policy.

“Simply put, radical Islam is running wild,” he said. “They have more safe havens, more money, more weapons and more capability to strike our homeland than anytime since 9/11.They are large, rich and entrenched.”

“As president I will make them small, poor and on the run,” Graham said.

Graham recently retired from the Air Force Reserve, after 33 years in the military.

Part of the reason Graham may be running is to rebut the foreign policy views of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. The South Carolina is a close ally of Arizona Sen. John McCain, and the two of them have routinely criticized Paul’s more restrained national security views.

“Generally speaking, he’s been more wrong than right,” Graham recently said of Paul. “He has a isolationist view of the world that I don’t share.”

The South Carolina Republican is also known for his views on immigration, having been a member of the Gang of Eight Republicans and Democrats that unsuccessfully pushed for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

Graham barely registers in the polls at this point. A Quinnipiac University National poll released last week showed him with just 1 percent of support from Republicans.

Before he spoke Monday, Graham was introduced by his sister, who talked of how he helped raised her after both of their parents died when they were young. “I don’t know what I would have done without you,” she said.

Graham is single and has never been married. He would be the first bachelor president since James Buchanan, elected in 1856.

Graham also touched on domestic issues during his announcement, vowing to “fix entitlement programs to make sure people who need the benefits the most receive them.”

“Washington’s failure to do the hard but right thing has put Social Security and Medicare in serious jeopardy,” he said. “As my generation retires both programs are on track to go bust. We’re living longer and fewer workers are supporting more retirees. That’s unsustainable. Everybody knows it. Not everybody admits it.”

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