Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham Launches Presidential Bid With Foreign Policy Front and Center

Graham greets supporters after announcing his campaign. (Jessica McGowan/Getty)

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham became the ninth Republican to enter the 2016 presidential race on Monday, promising a campaign focused squarely on defeating the terrorist threat. 

“I want to be president to to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them,” Graham told the crowd assembled in his hometown of Central, S.C. “Ronald Reagan’s policy of peace through strength kept America safe during the Cold War. Remember those times? But I have come to conclude that we will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam because its followers intend to destroy our way of life.”  

The third-term senator, who easily beat back a tea-party challenge last year, has been a vocal critic of a fellow 2016 candidate: Kentucky senator Rand Paul. He has made no bones about the fact that his campaign will in many ways serve as a vehicle to challenge what he views as Paul’s isolationist foreign-policy views and to stamp out their existence in the GOP. “I’m going to challenge his construct that the NSA and those who work there are more dangerous to our country than the al-Qaeda and ISIL threat,” Graham told Roll Call last month. “The things he said on the floor about the program are absolutely outrageous.”

Graham retired from the United States Air Force last week in preparation, after 33 years of service, in preparation for his presidential bid.

#related#Foreign policy will be the central focus of Graham’s campaign. In a May interview with CBS This Morning, Graham said he’s running ”because I think the world is falling apart.”

Graham has never lost an election — he first ran for office in 1992 — but he will undoubtedly have a tough time winning the nomination. A recent CBS News survey found that 32 percent of people polled wouldn’t vote for Graham, while just 12 percent said they would. 55 percent remain uncertain.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry is expected to become the tenth Republican to join the presidential race when he announces his campaign later this week. Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, who would become the fourth Democratic candidate, is also expected to announce his candidacy. 

Julia Porterfield is a National Review intern. 

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