By Robert Kittle
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’ll decide by May whether he’ll run for president. He’s already formed a political committee, called Security Through Strength, to explore the possibility and raise money. “I do well in South Carolina, but the key for me is do I get traction in Iowa and New Hampshire early on? We’re going to be going to Iowa and New Hampshire. We’re going to hire some people to help us put together an organization. I know what it takes financially. You have to raise a lot of money. You have to have a national organization and you go through personal hell,” he told reporters Monday in Columbia.
He said he’s thinking about it because of what’s happening in the world and President Obama’s handling of U.S. foreign policy and the military.
“I feel like I’m ready to do this. I feel like I’m prepared to be president, but whether or not there’s a pathway forward I won’t know until I try,” he says.
“Security through strength is not just a slogan, it’s a concept. I have come to conclude that you cannot peacefully co-exist with radical Islam. Because of their religious teachings and their religious doctrine, they will not accept peaceful coexistence with those who would worship God in another way or not at all. But you can have security. And the best way to secure America against radical Islam is to build up people in the region so they can do the fighting in their backyard.”
He says most Muslims are peaceful and it’s only the radical outliers who are causing problems. But he says those problems are serious. “I’ve never been more worried about our country being attacked than I am today. In the middle of all this chaos we’re reducing our military spending to historic lows. So one of the first things I want to do as Senator Graham is find Democrats and Republicans to replace these defense cuts before we gut our military.”
He says his campaign would be about more than just strengthening our military, though. He says “strength through security” is also about economic strength. “80 million baby boomers are going to retire in the next 30 years and Medicare and Social Security, two programs that are vital to our nation, are going to be wiped out,” he says. And immigration also needs to be dealt with, although he says it would be impossible for 11 million illegal immigrants to “self-deport.”
He thinks his experience in the military and with foreign policy, as well as his reputation for being willing to reach across the aisle, make him uniquely qualified in a crowded Republican field.
“I have shown an ability not only to fight for the conservative cause but to solve problems that affect all Americans. I’m a conservative, but I’m also a problem solver. And the one thing I’ve resisted during my time in politics is to look at an issue through an ideological prism that will give you a distorted view as to what is possible,” he says.