CENTRAL, SC, June 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Before a crowd in his hometown of Central, South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham entered the Republican presidential race on Monday in a speech focusing on foreign affairs and sparing little time for social issues.
“I will be a champion of social conservative values without apology, or animosity,” he said. Speaking slowly before the Southern crowd, he promised “to embrace your values.”
But when it comes to “the big things,” he said, Democrats and Republicans “share a common fate.” Although the parties may differ, Graham told politicians on the other side of the aisle, “you’re not my enemy. You’re my fellow countrymen.”
Graham said that Islamic fundamentalists represent “the culture of death that seeks to destroy the dignity of life.” He also branded Islamic extremists the “enemies of Enlightenment.” “The culture of death” is a phrase typically used by pro-life activists to speak of the evil of abortion, euthanasia, and other similar attacks on human life.
Although Graham has a dependably pro-life voting record – a prerequisite for anyone representing South Carolina – he has generally treated social issues as peripheral to his neoconservative foreign policy views. In his annoucnement speech he did not use the words “abortion,” “marriage,” or “religion.”
Early last month he told a Boston radio program, “If the Supreme Court rules sometime this year that same-sex 'marriage' bans are unconstitutional, then that will be a defining moment in that debate. It will be time for us to move forward as a society.”
“Being for traditional marriage without animosity is where I stand,” he added.
On abortion, Graham chose to introduce the stalled bill barring abortion for infants capable of feeling pain in the U.S. Senate five months after it passed the House, in the midst of a tight primary campaign. He told pro-lifers to “be proud of speaking for the unborn. I’m a pro-life guy with exceptions of rape and incest.”
Taking aim at Richard Mourdock, he said, “When a woman is raped, it is not the will of God: it is a crime, and the perpetrator should be punished accordingly. The woman will make that decision about what to do after being the victim of a crime.”
In January, after Reps. Renee Ellmers and Jackie Walorski led a House uprising against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act's rape reporting requirement, Lindsey Graham promised to make it easier to get an abortion after a woman claimed to be raped.
This year, he voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General, although she signed a 2006 amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood's opposition to a partial birth abortion ban, saying the support proved his bipartisan bona fides.
Some pro-life conservatives welcomed Graham into the race. Frank Cannon, president of American Principles in Action, said, “Senator Graham is a welcome addition to the growing Republican presidential field,” calling the Senator “a gifted orator” with “bold” convictions.
“Senator Graham continually backs up his words with concrete action,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “He has been a true and consistent champion for life in the U.S. Senate and, thanks to his strategic leadership, we are closer than ever before to getting every Senator on record when it comes to protecting innocent children after the fifth month of pregnancy.”
Still, it came as no surprise that the veteran, whom John McCain jokingly refers to as “my illegitimate son,” would not make social issues a campaign focus. Graham, an outspoken advocate of a hawkish foreign policy, instead rooted his candidacy in advancing American commitments and interventions around the world.
“Radical Islam is running wild,” he declared as he berated “the Obama-Clinton policy.”
“I've come to conclude we will never enjoy peaceful co-existence with radical Islam, because its followers are committed to destroying us and our way of life,” he stated.
“The Obama administration, and some of my colleagues in Congress, substituted wishful thinking for sound national security strategy,” he said, in a not-so-veiled reference to Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, a fellow 2016 presidential hopeful who seeks a more limited U.S. footprint around the world.
Sens. Paul and Graham have clashed numerous times over foreign policy, most especially over President Obama's war on Libya, which was launched without Congressional approval. While Paul opposed the intervention, Graham co-sponsored a measure authorizing the war, which toppled Muammar Qaddafi from power. In the ensuing instability, Islamic fundamentalist extremists gained control of Libya.
Graham promised to maintain a close alliance with the nation of Israel. “To our friends in Israel, I will never abandon you,” he said, adding that the U.S. shares an “unbreakable” friendship with Tel Aviv. “I will always stand firm in supporting the one and only Jewish state.”
Graham promised that “we will have a 'reset' with Russia that sticks” in a low, serious tone.
On Social Security, he warned, “Young people, you may just have to work a little longer” than current law, which allows those born after 1960 to collect full benefits at age 67.
Graham's announcement made him the ninth Republican presidential hopeful in 2016 and the third to enter the race in a week, after Rick Santorum and George Pataki. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced for president today.
While he does not share the obstacles facing Pataki – who calls himself pro-choice and wants Republicans to keep quiet about abortion and gay “marriage” – Graham has often frustrated his party's base.
He has supported environmentalist policies, campaign finance reform, curtailed filibusters against liberal judicial nominees, and his often vituperative language while stumping to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants has earned him the nickname “Lindsey Grahamnesty.”
In his announcement, he doubled down, offering to continue reaching across the aisle to cut deals with liberal Democrats. “Don't take my word for it; examine my record,” he said.
Graham separates himself from the presidential field in one respect: The confirmed bachelor is the only single man in the race so far.
Graham's marital status has led him to deny rumors that he is homosexual – despite opposing same-sex “marriage” and the repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. (Graham is about to end his time in the reserves due to age.) When asked by the New York Times, he joked that “maybe I’m having a clandestine affair with Ricky Martin.” He concluded, “I know it’s really gonna upset a lot of gay men…but I ain’t available. I ain’t gay. Sorry.”
If elected, he would be the first bachelor to set foot in the White House since 1886, when President Grover Cleveland got married in office — on June 2, almost 129 years to the day of Graham's announcement.
The last president to enter and leave office a bachelor was James Buchanan on the eve of the Civil War. Buchanan also experienced speculation over his sexual orientation. (His biographer said Buchanan was likely asexual.)