Lindsey Graham to Jump Into 2016 Presidential Race: 'Ready to Be Commander … | us news

Lindsey Graham to Jump Into 2016 Presidential Race: ‘Ready to Be Commander …

1 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Lindsey Graham Launches Bid for Republican Presidential Nomination.

Lindsey Graham entered the 2016 presidential race on Monday, pledging to make national security the focus of his campaign and to force other Republican candidates to talk about defense. Graham (R-S.C.) announced Monday in his hometown of Central, S.C. that he will run for president in 2016, adding to a crowded Republican field one of the party’s most aggressive national security voices in a campaign that has focused often on foreign policy. “I am running for president of the United States because I am ready to be commander-in-chief on day one…to defend our nation with a sound strategy, a strong military, stable alliances and a steady determination,” Graham told a crowd of supporters. “I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. Graham helped raise and eventually adopted his younger sister after his parents died in quick succession while he was an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina.

Graham is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, a longtime military attorney and a defense hawk who recently returned from duty in Afghanistan and a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. The list of challenges he’ll face is long: it begins with criticism from some conservative activists who say he has been too liberal — and includes a long poll climb out of low single-digit territory. The South Carolina senator has routinely lambasted President Obama’s strategy abroad — along with the foreign policy views of potential GOP presidential rival Sen.

Graham joins eight other candidates who have roundly criticized the Obama administration’s national security policy, but his critiques have been especially long-running, detailed and consistent. He has called for more forceful military strategies in Iraq and Syria and warned the Obama administration against trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. Graham has pushed for increased military spending and says the U.S. should break off talks with Iran and increase sanctions until it abandons its nuclear program.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has vowed to do whatever he can do get Graham elected. “Senator Graham, he’s my man,” McCain gleefully told reporters in January when Graham launched his exploratory committee. He later added: “I don’t want to raise expectations, but I am confident in a debate he will make an impression on the American people.” Christian Ferry, who was deputy campaign manager for McCain in 2008, is expected to manage Graham’s campaign. Graham’s bid is commanding an outsize amount of attention in his home state, which holds the “first in the South” presidential primary in February and is likely to fall fourth on the nominating calendar, just after contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Graham takes pride in his ability to work across the aisle, and was a member of several bipartisan Senate groups, including the four Republicans and four Democrats dubbed the Gang of Eight who lobbied for a failed 2013 immigration-reform package.

The bill Graham pushed alongside a bipartisan group of senators never became law as resistance on the right led the GOP-controlled House to ignore it. And his blunt assessment of the tea party movement in its early days could compound his problems. “The problem with the tea party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country.

He had six primary opponents in his 2014 re-election bid and has been booed in public appearances for his long-running support for an immigration overhaul, including a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants. “There’s something like 18 people in the Republican clown car right now,” Mr. Graham has campaigned for or donated money to many of the state’s elected officials, increasing the likelihood that they will endorse his long-shot bid or sit out the presidential primary. Many of his backers are longtime allies of the Bush family, which poses a particular challenge for Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor whose father and brother were presidents.

Graham has also supported some of President Obama’s appointees, citing the Constitution as giving the executive branch the power to choose Supreme Court justices and other leaders. Graham plans to spend a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire leveraging what aides call his greatest asset, his personality, in an attempt to gain some momentum in the early-voting states. The senator is generally chatty with reporters in the halls of Congress and he has maintained a major presence on Sunday morning news shows in recent years. The New York Times blog The Upshot analyzed data collected by American University and found that between 2009 and the fall of 2014, Graham made 85 appearances on Sunday shows.

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