South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham Monday joined the crowded Republican presidential field, saying no one, including himself, had expected he would run for the U.S. president but he is ready to be commander-in-chief on the very first day. Graham faced a cheering South Carolina crowd as he declared his credentials, saying his national security qualifications are better than any other candidate's, including Hillary Clinton.
“I want to be president to defeat the enemies trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them,” ABC News quoted Graham as saying. “We will never enjoy peaceful co-existence with radical Islam because its followers are committed to destroying us and our way of life."
Graham, who would become the third unmarried man to become president if elected, said his ambition was based on a willingness to “defeat the enemies” who intended to kill the American people. He has been highly critical of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another of the GOP presidential hopefuls, whose opinions about national security oppose Graham’s. The 59-year-old retired Air Force colonel is a known as a defense hawk. While Paul is arguably the most powerful voice in the Senate against NSA surveillance programs, Graham’s stance on the issue is exactly the opposite.
NBC News reported Graham was expected to use his opposition Middle East extremism to boost his chances. His goal is to prevent Iraq from achieving nuclear power and stabilizing the country. Unlike Paul, who has been critical of U.S. intervention overseas, Graham is strongly in favor of such action. Graham said radical Islam is growing stronger. He said Muslims who believe in extremism are large and rich, but he would make them “small, poor and on the run.”
The Democratic National Committee said after Graham’s announcement it was unfortunate Graham’s policies were so similar to those of former President George W. Bush. The statement said Graham could be expected to embrace Bush’s “disastrous foreign policy” if elected.