As the 2016 presidential race on the Republican side shifts from economic to foreign policy with the rise of the Islamic State group, the crisis in Ukraine and controversy over a possible nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said he would “test the waters” for a potential run for the White House. But almost two-thirds of South Carolina voters say Graham shouldn’t dip his toes in the water, according to a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday.
A little more than 60 percent of South Carolinians polled said Graham, who is among the most prominent Republican foreign policy hawks in the Senate, should not run for president in 2016 while about 28 percent said he should. Another 9 percent said they were unsure whether Graham should run and 2 percent refused to answer the question.
In January, Graham, 59, set up a presidential exploratory committee, “Security Through Strength,” which is a preliminary step in running for president. Among other things, “Security Through Strength” pays for Graham’s travels across the country, particularly to early primary states, to gauge a possible candidacy for president. Last month, Graham was in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses early next year, according to the Washington Post. The senator’s home state is where the third contest of the 2016 primary season is held.
Along with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Graham is one of the most outspoken GOP senators on foreign policy. Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Graham’s exploratory committee held a $1,000-a-head fundraiser -- $2,700 to serve on the event’s host committee – that drew 2,000 people, according to USA Today. "A lot of people in that room want me to go to the next level," Graham said after the fundraiser before adding, "We'll see if there is a path."
The Winthrop poll surveyed 1,109 South Carolina residents between Feb. 21 and March 1. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.