U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told S.C. House Republicans Tuesday he’s “99.9 percent sure” he will run for president.
“And I’m going to run about what I’m going to do, not what I’m against,” said the third-term U.S. senator who spoke at the House GOP caucus meeting.
Graham tested his 2016 presidential pitch – his support for reforming immigration policy and entitlement programs and a strong military that takes the fight overseas to terrorists – to members of the House GOP.
“I don’t know how to defend this country without some of us going over there to do the fighting,” Graham said. “We’re going to have to send some of our soldiers back to partner with people in the region so these guys don’t go here again.”
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As president, he said, “I’d go after these bastards wherever they live.”
Graham was warmly welcomed by the body where the Seneca Republican got his start in politics, serving one term from 1993-94 before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Lindsey Graham as a freshman was one of about two or three people who could go toe-to-toe with (then Democratic House Speaker) Bob Sheheen,” recalled state Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, who served with Graham.
“We were all on judiciary together,” Delleney continued, telling how he recalled Graham saying, “If he was going to do this stuff, he was going to get paid to do it.”
“So he told us all he was going to run for Congress, and we all thought, 'That's nice." He was in a very large field and no one gave him much of a chance.”
Graham finished third among would-be presidential primary voters in an April Winthrop Poll and trails a field of GOP White House hopefuls in polls in other early-primary states.
Graham stopped by the S.C. State House Tuesday for private meetings with House and Senate lawmakers, Gov. Nikki Haley, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson and Secretary of State Mark Hammond.
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