Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is the latest GOP presidential candidate to throw his hat in the ring. Graham announced his candidacy in his hometown of Central, South Carolina Monday morning.
“Everything I am, everything I will be, I owe to the example of … small towns throughout South Carolina” he said in his speech, adding “thank you, thank you for everything.” Graham is known for his hawkish stance on foreign policy – especially against terrorists in the Middle East – which he stressed throughout his formal campaign announcement.
He criticized the Obama administration, saying every day the headlines attest to the failures of the Obama-Clinton policies. He said he has one simple message, “I have more experience with national security than another candidate in this race – that includes you Hillary.”
“To our friends in Israel, I will never abandon you,” Graham said. “American weakness anywhere, hurts us everywhere.”
Graham said he wants to be president “to protect our nation that we all love so much” and “to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us.”
He said America can’t exist peacefully with radical Islam because “its followers intend to destroy our way of life however America can be and will be secure if only we have strength.”
“Simply put, radical Islam is running wild. 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,” said Graham.
But to defeat this enemy, it will require more than military might. The most powerful weapon in our arsenal isn’t a gun. It’s an idea. The terrorists are selling a glorious death. We must sell a hopeful life. I’ve learned from my travels that a small school house in a remote region educating a young girl can do more damage to radical Islam than any weapon we possess.
The New York Times reported he “has said his fear that the world is ‘falling apart’ inspired him to run for the White House. He will try to convince voters that a platform of pragmatism at home and ‘security through strength’ abroad is the formula that gives Republicans the best chance to beat Hillary Rodham Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee.”
However, Graham is nowhere near a favorite among Republican voters. In fact, he isn’t even listed on recent polling data, according to Real Clear Politics.
Graham said, “I want to be president to make government work for you” and to “keep promises to you” adding that he “will work with anyone to do it.”
He said he wants to make big government smaller and a great nation greater.
Graham also discussed Medicare and Social Security, among other government programs. “We have to fix entitlement programs to make sure people who need the benefits the most, receive them,” he said.
Following his events Monday in South Carolina, Graham heads immediately out on the campaign trail to New Hampshire Tuesday and Iowa on Friday.
More announcements are expected this summer, with Donald Trump, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry expected to join the race.