On Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R) SC officially announced he is a candidate for President. Senator Graham served in both houses of Congress and in the U.S. Airforce, where he recently retired after 33 years, most of it in the Reserves having reached the rank of Colonel. His announcement speech focused mainly on foreign policy, which he believes will a critical issue in the 2016 campaign. He has the most experience in that field, even more he points out, than Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic nominee. “I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race…This includes you Hillary,” he said at one point.
Continuing on with his foreign policy theme, he mentioned several problematic areas of the world where he maintains the Obama/Clinton foreign policy has failed or faltered, citing Iran, Russia, China and the Middle East of examples of particular concern. He has been an outspoken critic on the Obama administration’s cool treatment of Israel. “To our friends in Israel: I will never abandon you,” he stated in his speech.
Only briefly did he talk about domestic policy, having received criticism from conservatives in his own party regarding those matters. He hinted that he might be open to raising taxes on the very rich in order to shore up Medicare, he also suggested he might raise the retirement age. He spoke of America’s need for energy independence. He has in the past supported the XL pipeline and expanding off-shore drilling.
His considerable strength at foreign affairs may not be enough to make up for what the conservative wing of the GOP considers his chief weakness: Domestic policy, especially in the areas of immigration and taxes. Most would consider him a moderate Republican, not conservative enough to win significant Tea Party support in a race with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio already in it. He will struggle to keep up with the fund-raising of Jeb Bush, his prime competition among the so-called “establishment” Republicans. He will need an early victory in his home state of South Carolina in the primaries in order to keep his campaign afloat for very long. To a governor as nominee he might be a tempting choice of running mate, with his foreign affairs credentials. Thus, President of the Senate then is a much more likely outcome for him than President of the United States at this juncture.