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2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign: Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham served as the Senator from South Carolina since 2003, and sought the Republican nomination for the presidency during the 2016 election.

Graham was born on July 9, 1955, in the town of Central, South Carolina. His parents owned and operated a restaurant/bar and liquor store, and Lindsey was active in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) as a youth. While training with the ROTC following high school, both of Graham's parents died within 15 months of each other. At age 21, he began classes at the University of South Carolina (USC) in order to be closer to, and take care of, his little sister. He legally adopted his sister when she was thirteen. Graham received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from USC, and graduated with his juris doctor from the USC School of Law in 1981. Between 1982 and 1989 Graham served in the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate, where he was sent to Europe as a military prosecutor. For a short period between 1989 and 1991 Graham entered private practice as a lawyer, but he was called back into duty during the 1991 Gulf War. Lindsey Graham served one term in the South Carolina House of Representatives, from 1993-1995.

With the 20-year incumbent Democratic Representative from South Carolina Butler Derrick retiring, Graham launched an election campaign to succeed him in 1994. After gaining the endorsement of U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, he won the Republican primary and the general election, and was sworn into office in 1995. Graham won three more terms as South Carolina's Representative, running unopposed in 1998 and easily defeating his opponents in 1996 and 2000. While in the House of Representatives, Graham served on the Committee on International Relations, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Armed Services.

Upon Strom Thurmond's retirement in 2002, Lindsey Graham ran a campaign to succeed him and won the Republican primary unopposed. He won the general election by a ten point margin and only served as the junior Senator for two years before Democrat Ernest Hollings retired in 2005. Graham won the 2008 South Carolina Republican primary by over 30%, carrying every county but one. In the general election Graham easily defeated his Democratic opponent, outspending him by over $6.4 million. No serious challenger emerged during the 2014 election, and Graham defeated his closest opponent by a large margin. While a member of the Senate, Graham was assigned to the Committee on Appropriations, Committee on Armed Services, Committe on the Budget, Committee on the Judiciary, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Lindsey Graham is known as a moderate Republican, and has been criticized by the Tea Party and other hard-line conservatives for his work compromising with Democrats. Conservative Republicans have described him as having an “independent streak.” Graham has received much criticism from within his own party as a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. Known as a “war-hawk,” Graham favors an interventionist foreign policy. Graham opposes universal background checks and extended gun control legislation, and is a steadfast opponent of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012 Senator Graham co-sponsored the Resolution for Israeli Self-Defense (SR599).

On May 18, 2015, Graham announced his presidential campaign on CBS This Morning. In July 2015 Graham referred to fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a “jackass” during an interview with CNN. Trump, in response, gave out Graham's personal cell phone number at a campaign rally.

Graham called off his campaign on December 21, 2015, via an official email sent to supporters as well as a YouTube video.

U.S. - Israel Relationship

  • “The Obama administration has empowered the chief antagonist of the state of Israel with more money, more weapons and a pathway to the bomb, and they think they can fix it by empowering the Israeli military.”
    (Fourth Republican Debate)
  • “When it comes to military assistance and economic assistance, Congress is firmly in Israel’s camp... the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is unique, because Israel is unique. There are no Arab democracies. We are going to be a friend to those who embrace tolerance and freedom and allow people to express themselves and reach their goals as individuals.”
    (Washington Free Beacon, January 2, 2015)
  • “The terrorists see us as the Great Satan and you (Israel) as the Little Satan. As far as they’re concerned, we’re exactly the same thing. The relations between the two countries aren’t the relationship of the leaders.”
    (Long Beach Jewish Life)
  • “The U.S. has always stood strong for Israel in all multilateral institutions and maintained clear and firm opposition to any attempt to use the United Nations or other international bodies to undermine direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  And yet President Obama has indicated he may retreat from that firm stance.  We need a president who will proudly assert our support for Israel and prevent any institution of which the U.S. is a member and a funding source from becoming a tool for undermining Israel and direct negotiations.”
    (Lindsey Graham Campaign Website)


  • “The Obama administration has empowered the chief antagonist of the state of Israel with more money, more weapons and a pathway to the bomb, and they think they can fix it by empowering the Israeli military. Any Republican candidate who wants to police this deal doesn't know what they're doing. Any Republican candidate who thinks you can police this deal is out to lunch.”
    (Fourth Republican Debate)
  • “This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I have ever seen in the history of watching the Middle East. You have put every Sunni Arab in a terrible spot... with the passage of time, this industrial-strength program we have locked in place will become a nuclear program. Any senator who votes for this is voting for a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. ”
    (NewsMax, July 24, 2015)
  • “Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room, I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are lying.”
    (Haaretz, June 2, 2015)
  • “... any deal between the P5+1 [and Iran] should come before Congress before the sanctions are lifted. I can’t think of a more important decision that the world will make in 2015 than how to handle the nuclear ambitions of the ayatollahs in Iran.”
    (Washington Free Beacon, January 2, 2015)

Hamas and the Situation in Gaza

  • “The Israeli people are in a dispute about their survival with the Palestinian people. The Israeli people gave land to the Palestinians, and in return they got 10,000 rockets, and you want them to do it again. Can't you understand why Israel may not want to withdraw from the West Bank given the history of Gaza?”
    (Lindsey Graham Press Release, March 24, 2015)
  • “Hamas is a terrorist organization. They've got one goal -- to destroy Israel. We're NOT going to let that happen.”
    (Lindsey Graham's Facebook, July 29, 2014)
  • “The reason so many Palestinians have been killed is because Hamas sets up conditions to have them killed, by putting military equipment by schools and hospitals in populated areas, trying to get their civilians killed for political purposes.”
    (NewsMax, July 24, 2014)
  • “The threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats.”
    (Lindsey Graham's Facebook, July 23, 2014)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • “Do I want a two-state solution? Yes, I would like a two-state solution, where the Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist and they have the ability to chart their own destiny. They are not anywhere near there. The Palestinian community is broken into two parts. The Hamas terrorist organization controls the essential part of the Palestinian community. They will not recognize Israel's right to exist. They are using the territory they hold as a launching pad for attacks against Israel routinely. These are the people who launch rockets from schoolyards and apartment buildings trying to blame Israel for being the bad guy when they respond.”
    (Lindsey Graham Press Release, March 24, 2015)
  • “I would not be pushing Israel to stop their ground invasion until they neutralize the threats they face from the rocket sites and the tunnels. We've had ceasefires in the last four years that result in the same outcome. Hamas rearms. ”
    (NewsMax, July 24, 2014)
  • “President Obama has to realize that in Israel, the war against Hamas wasn’t a war of the right, left, or center. It was a war of the entire Israeli people against a terrorist organization that wanted to destroy it, and Obama has to take that into account.”
    (Long Beach Jewish Life)