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Friday, July 03, 2015

Candidate Profile: #15. Lindsey Graham

For background to this series, click here.

It's time to get to the candidate you thought was an actress until like two weeks ago. The 15th most likely nominee of the Republican Party is . . .

Lindsey Graham, 59, Senator from South Carolina, 2003-present

Campaign Website and Slogan--www.lindseygraham.com/--"Security Through Strength"

PPFA Slogan--"We Need to Hunt Down Terrorists and Kill Them and I Will Personally Pull the Trigger"

Ideology on liberal-conservative spectrum (-10 is far left and +10 is far right. A center moderate is 0.): +6.25. A huge hawk and social conservative, but not too conservative beyond that. His economic ideology scores a moderate "0" on the -10/+10 scale, and he favors a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Moreover, he openly opposes the Tea Party and thinks it has dragged the Republican Party too far to the right.

Conservative Rank based on above: 7 of 16. His military and social conservatism bonafides are so strong that he still averages out to the top half of the field, conservatively speaking. But good luck to anyone trying to crack the top 6 in this group! Everest is more of an uphill climb.

Spin from the candidate's campaign--Graham grew up poor in central South Carolina, served in the Air Force, became a lawyer, a four-time member of the US House of Representatives and finally a U.S. Senator who has been re-elected twice. The United States needs to take the fight to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and any state sponsor of terrorism before the terrorists bring the fight to us. No one knows this strategy better than Lindsey Graham, who, along with Best Friends Forever John McCain, has been out front on this issue for the last decade. Plastered all over Graham's website are quotes like: "I lay down every night and wake up every morning determined to protect this country. We must fight them over there to keep them from coming here." That is an American leader.

Spin from opponents--He talks a good game on interventionism, but look at his record here at home. He works with Democrats on climate change and immigration reform, and he refuses to consider political ideology for judicial nominees. He even reached out to Democrats in his presidential announcement speech. Members of his own state even censured him last year for working with Democrats. We need a real Republican who stands up for real Republican values.

How do the polls look?--At least he's registering in national polls, unlike SOME people. That's the good news. The bad news is that, at just 1.2 points, he's dead last of the 15 who are registering. In the 11 major national polls taken with the whole field, Graham ranges between zero and two points. He is not registering at all in Iowa polls, and he averages just 0.7 in New Hampshire. His only saving grace is that the third primary--South Carolina--is his home state. There he has double digit poll numbers, sits in third place in the RCP average, and he actually won the latest poll. If he shows any life whatsoever in the first two primaries, he might be able to ride that to a South Carolina win and get something going (before being blown out by Super Tuesday).

PPFA analysis--Actual quote from Senator Graham: "If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL, I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you." With my #16 entry on George Pataki, I noted how voters don't know what the former New York governor stands for; there is no big issue or two that he effectively hammers home. Graham doesn't have that problem. If he is known for nothing else, he at least stands for the U.S. being active leaders on the world stage. But beyond that, he does not connect with the conservative base. For the fact that he works with Democrats on some big issues, he's been branded a "moderate Republican," which, in a Republican Primary, is as insulting as making fun of your mother's weight, odor, or socioeconomic status. It's especially hurtful because he's actually pretty socially conservative. If you have the money and establishment support of a McCain or Romney, you can weather the charge of moderation. If you're Lindsey Graham, you can't.

PPFA nomination rank--15 of 16 (Odds: 50:1)

PPFA general election rank--12 of 16. Those below him are too far right for the electorate, but Graham's fire-breathing hawkishness will worry too many Americans that a Graham Administration means another undesirable war in west Asia is inevitable.


Number 14 on deck. Who will it be? Check back here to find out.

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