Interview with GOP Presidential Hopeful Lindsey Graham

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS


Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham is not garnering much support in national polls as he seeks to stand out in the crowded field of candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Over the weekend, Graham campaigned in New Hampshire with his Senate colleague John McCain, who scored a victory twice in the first of the nation’s primary state in 2000 and 2008.

But with the national debate shifting to national security, the U.S. war on terror and foreign policy issues, Graham says he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. “There’s the election before Paris and there’s the election after Paris,” Graham told Jewish Insider in a brief interview after a campaign stop in New York last week. That line would later be repeated on the campaign trail. “I think my chances of rising have gone up dramatically because foreign policy and national security are more important, not less,” he said. “Foreign policy knowledge and experience will matter more, not less. And my background in terms of military experience and time on the ground in the Middle East, as well as my understanding of what to do about ISIL – I’ve been saying it for two years – is going to mean more in the coming weeks than it did in the past weeks. And I believe the pressure on Trump and Carson to articulate the way forward is going to be greater.”

Graham said that he would be disappointed if he doesn’t get on the main stage at the next debate to present himself as a voice of reason to a party that wants to win back the WH. “I think the RNC rules have been absurd. I’ve never done this before. Using national polling to silence me or other candidates has been absurd.” he said. “The best way to prepare our party for victory is for us to have every voice we can get within reason to challenge us. I want to talk to Donald Trump about national security… I want to challenge people within my party, and I want to be challenged by people in my party.”

“If you don’t win, would you agree to serve as Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton?” we asked.

“No,” Graham replied chuckling. “I want to be the Commander in Chief. And If I don’t win, I want a Republican to win. I want to win. We cannot let [Hillary] continue the failed policies of Barack Obama.”

Graham also expressed his gratitude for the support he has gotten from the pro-Israel and Jewish communities. “The pro-Israel community has been a godsend of Lindsey Graham because of my unwavering support for the State of Israel,” the South Carolina Senator told Jewish Insider. “I’ll never forget this. It means the world to me that the American pro-Israel community, Evangelical Christians, and Jewish-Americans have been supportive of me. I’ll never, ever forget that. I’m very appreciative of that.”

Finally, we asked the Republican presidential hopeful what is his favorite Kosher restaurant, given that he has dined a lot with friends and supporters, as well as with his personal friend former Senator Joe Lieberman over the years.

“I’ll give Joe Lieberman my proxy,” Graham said. “But there are so many Kosher restaurants to choose from.”

“I’ve been traveling with Lieberman for the past 15 years. I thought the Baptist faith had a lot of rules. The Orthodox [Jewish] faith has a ton of rules. I might as well be Jewish after hanging around with Joe all these years,” he joked. “I hope that will give me some credit.”

Related: Graham: Muslims Should Be Scrutinized ‘Based on Behavior’


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