After announcing a possible run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation to describe his qualifications for the job and proclaim himself a proud “mainstream” conservative.
Sitting in for Bob Schieffer was Norah O’Donnell, who was a bit skeptical of Sen. Graham’s self-assessment. She pointed to the following: “You voted for both of President Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court, your critics call you ‘Lindsey Grahamnesty’ for your support of immigration reform, you believe in climate change.”
O’Donnell then asked the obvious: “Can you get elected in a Republican primary? Do you even have a chance?”
A confident Graham responded, assuring he fits snuggly “in the mainstream of conservatism:”
Well, I won in South Carolina — it’s a pretty red state. I’m for immigration reform, starting with securing your border — all Republicans agree with that — [and] more legal immigration. Paying illegal immigrants under the table is a real threat to the middle-class wage growth. That’s one of the reasons we need to fix immigration. But my view on immigration is shared by 70 percent of the American people.
When it comes to Supreme Court justices, if I get to be president, I’d nominate Trey Gowdy and would expect Democrats to vote for him because he’s a qualified person. I thought [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, while I would not have chosen them, were very qualified candidates to be picked by a Democratic president.
So I’m very comfortable that I’m in the mainstream of conservatism. I’ve done very well in a red state and when it comes to national security and understanding the threats our nation faces, I believe I’m the best qualified of anybody on our side of the aisle to offer an alternative to a failed foreign policy of Barack Obama.
Graham launched a political action committee called Security Through Strength in advance of the 2016 elections. Playing off of Ronald Reagan’s words, “peace through strength,” Graham said it’s not possible to have peace alongside radical Islam, however, he does believe that keeping terrorists off of American soil can provide security.