Lindsey Graham: I'm ready to defeat America's enemies

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington
Posted 6/01/15, 04:45 pm

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced his Oval Office bid on Monday at a podium perched in a normally quiet street against the small storefronts of the town where he grew up, Central, S.C.

“I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much.” Graham said, “So get ready. I’m ready!”

The announcement was a mere formality after the senator confirmed his candidacy in an interview with CBS last month.

Graham, who has carved a reputation as a steel-eyed defense hawk, fanned his feathers on Monday. The senator, also a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, made clear that the role he seeks, first and foremost, is that of commander-in-chief.

While other GOP contenders trumpet their domestic agendas, such as plans to generate working class jobs or shear the overgrowth of Washington’s influence, Graham told supporters he’s running to break America’s adversaries.

“I want to be president to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us; not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them,” he said. Graham warned America will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam “because its followers intend to destroy our way of life.”

Graham painted a grim portrait of U.S. foreign policy under the present administration, declaring “every day the headlines attest to the failures of the Obama-Clinton policies.” Radical Islam is running wild, he said, adding that terrorists “have more safe havens, more money, more capability, and more weapons to strike our homeland than at any point since 9/11.”

Graham said that in partnership with others, America must take the fight to its enemies “so they can’t come here.”

The greatest threat of all, according to Graham, is the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran. He said if the United States isn’t firm in its intention to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, its Islamic leaders “will trigger a nuclear arms race in the least stable region on earth.”

On domestic matters, Graham offered a mainstream conservative vision—lower taxes, energy independence, and reforming Social Security and Medicare to ensure their long-term solvency. “As my generation retires,” he said, “both programs are on track to go bust.”

The senator also pledged to be an unabashed voice for social conservative values.

Lindsey Graham, 59, was elected to the Senate in 2002 after serving eight years in the House. He has never been married and has no children. Analysts note Americans have not voted a bachelor into the White House since Grover Cleveland, more than a century ago.

Like former New York Gov. George Pataki, who announced his presidential campaign last week, Graham is not yet moving the needle in presidential polls.

While he claims to be undaunted by the numbers, he has little time to lose. Fox News, which will host the first televised Republican presidential debate on Aug. 6, announced it will limit the field to 10 candidates to be determined by an average of major polls. If Graham can’t raise his profile over the next two months, he may be excluded from the first GOP debate, making political traction that much more elusive.