Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) threw his hat into the 2016 ring today, a longshot for the presidential nomination but a sureshot to turn the conversation toward foreign policy.
“I’ve got one simple message: I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race,” Graham told a crowd on a street in his hometown, tiny Central, S.C.
The 59-year-old dedicated the vast majority of his speech to foreign policy, if in a manner more subdued than his more fiery speeches on the floor of the Senate.
“I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much. So get ready. I’m ready,” he said. “I want to be president to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them.”
“Ronald Reagan’s policy of peace through strength kept America safe during the Cold War. Remember those times? But I’ve come to conclude we will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam because its followers intend to destroy our way of life. However, America can be and will be secure only if we have strength. Security through strength will protect us.”
Graham added that “it is sad for me to report to you, but Barack Obama has made us less safe.”
“Simply put, radical Islam is running wild. They have more safe havens, more money, more capability and more weapons to strike our homeland than any time since 9/11. They are large, they are rich, they’re entrenched. As president, I will make them small, poor and on the run,” he continued. “I’m afraid some Americans have grown tired of fighting them. I have some bad news to share with you. The radical Islamists are not tired of fighting you. In partnership with others, we must take the fight to them, building lines of defenses over there, so they can’t come here.”
“Building up and supporting regional forces to go after their safe havens that could be used to attack our homeland. The world is exploding in terror and violence. But the biggest threat of all is the nuclear ambitions of the radical Islamists who control Iran. Ladies and gentlemen, there are no moderates in Iran running their government.”
The senator said he’s running for commander in chief because he has “the experience, the judgment, and the will to deny the most radical regimes the most dangerous weapons.”
“But to defeat this enemy, it will require more than military might. The most powerful weapon in our arsenal isn’t a gun. It’s an idea,” Graham said. “The terrorists are selling a glorious death. We must sell a hopeful life.”
“I know the players; I know our friends and I know our enemies alike but most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, they know me. I have listened, learned and prepared myself for the job of commander in chief. I have served in the Air Force for 33 years. And it has been a true pleasure and honor. I spent much of my adult life as part of a team committed to defending America, protecting our way of life, making sure that we’re safe. Politicians focus on elections. The military focuses on the mission. If given the privilege to serve as your president, I will focus on the mission to defend America, to protect our way of life and to leave the next generation a stronger, safer, better nation than we inherited.”