Rudy for Veep?

by Robert Costa

Over on the home page, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, comments on the presidential race. The maverick lawmaker dishes on numerous topics, including the veep slot:

Beyond South Carolina, Graham thinks the GOP should look to all corners of the country, “our pretty deep pool,” for its vice-presidential nominee. The Northeast, he predicts, could be the place to find a leader who balances the ticket. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, he says, would be excellent. Or, if Republicans were looking to Florida, freshman Sen. Marco Rubio, “a good guy, would obviously be very helpful.”

Those two names, I say, are obvious. Graham smiles and floats another: Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor. “I know it would create problems on the social side,” he says, in reference to Giuliani’s pro-choice views. “But if you thought you had to do something on national security, you wanted a seasoned person who could be a good adviser to the president on how to make America safe, turn big systems around,” then Giuliani, he says, would be optimal.

“Rudy is respected by a lot of Americans,” Graham says. “I’m in the winning camp. We’re going to be a pro-life party regardless of who is vice president. I want to win.” Tapping Giuliani “may be a bridge too far” to some Republicans, “but when you ask me about who should be [the vice president], I’m looking for someone who could do the job and help the ticket win.”

He also praises Santorum:

Moving forward, Graham thinks an increased emphasis on foreign policy could help candidates in South Carolina, even if they are lagging in the polls. He hints that former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who has received little press attention, could generate some momentum by vigorously addressing the terrorism threat, at home and abroad. “On the national-security side, I think he’s got a very good, strong voice,” Graham says. “He’s doing the best job, by far, of talking about the America that leads, the America that is exceptional.”

“I’m not going to let the party become the party of isolationism,” Graham says. He points to Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is actively campaigning in South Carolina, as an example of the position he finds unpalatable. “I don’t know what he’s up to,” Graham says, commenting on Huntsman’s call for a speedy drawdown.

Rick Perry, he adds, must “prove that he is electable.”

“No one is going to win the White House without having a commitment to Social Security,” Graham says. “[Perry] is right about it going broke, and I think his [USA Today] op-ed piece was good, but we need to reinforce the message that we see the value of Social Security.”

Graham says Perry’s policy to require young girls to receive HPV inoculations unless their parents opted out, in order to prevent cervical cancer, could also spell trouble for the Texan. “From Governor Perry’s point of view, he was trying to protect girls from cancer. Whether you agree with his decision or not, I have no doubt about his motivation,” he says. “But I don’t think the mandatory route is the one to go. . . . Making someone do that, I don’t like.”

Read the rest here.

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