South Carolina

SC’s Graham targets Clinton in GOP presidential primary forum

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks Thursday during a pre-debate forum at the Quicken Loans Arena, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Seven of the candidates have not qualified for the primetime debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks Thursday during a pre-debate forum at the Quicken Loans Arena, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Seven of the candidates have not qualified for the primetime debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) AP

United StatesSen. Lindsey Graham punched up and out of the GOP presidential field Thursday, attacking the Democratic frontrunner repeatedly in a Fox News forum.

The Republican from Seneca also ignored GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, a recent sparring partner in the campaign.

Graham repeatedly said in the afternoon Fox gathering of the lower-polling GOP presidential hopefuls that if elected president, he would take the fight to the Islamic State and work with Democrats . The top 10 candidates debated Thursday night.

Lindsey Graham’s Fox forum strategy? Aim at the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, ignore GOP juggernaut Donald Trump and tack often to foreign policy.

Graham is hoping to gain momentum for South Carolina’s February 2016 primary, where he could be a “favorite son” candidate. However, he has been struggling to compete in the polls.

A look at what Graham said Thursday:

On fighting the Islamic State

Asked why Americans should sacrifice with a third Southwest Asian war, Graham said, “If we don’t stop them over there, they are coming here. ... If you’re running for president of the United States and you don’t understand that we need more American ground forces in Iraq, and that America has to be part of a regional ground force that will go into Syria and destroy ISIL (the Islamic State) in Syria, then you’re not ready to be commander in chief, and you’re not serious about destroying ISIL.”

On climate change

Asked how conservative voters can trust him after he worked with President Barack Obama and Democrats on climate change initiatives, Graham said, “You can trust me to do the following: When I get on stage with Hillary Clinton, we won’t be debating about the science. We’ll be debating about the solutions. In her world, cap and trade will dominate. It will destroy the economy in the name of helping the environment. In my world, we’ll focus on energy independence, a clean environment.”

On welfare programs

Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said “there’s an increasing willingness in this country to accept (welfare) assistance,” asking how Graham could get “able” Americans “to take the job instead of a handout.”

Graham did not agree with her.

“I think Americans (are) dying to work,” he said. “You just need to give them a chance.”

Then, he tacked to criticizing Clinton. “To all the Americans who want a better life, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. You’re not going to get it.”

On foreign policy

Graham was the only candidate to directly answer another question: Whether he would go so far as to monitor a mosque to root out terrorists.

“Do we all agree that ISIL is not the (junior varsity) team?” Graham asked, referring to the way President Barack Obama has described the terrorist organization.

If I have to monitor a mosque, I’ll monitor a mosque. If I have to take down a cyber-wall, I’ll take it. If I have to send more American troops (overseas) to protect us here, I will do it.

Lindsey Graham

On an executive order he would sign

“(N)ot take one dime of taxpayer money to fund abortion organizations overseas and restore the (National Security Agency) that’s been gutted. We’re going dark when it comes to detecting the next attack. ... I would not stand for that as president of the United States. I’d take the fight to these guys, whatever it took as long as it took.”

On bipartisanship

“At the end of the days, ladies and gentlemen, our best days are ahead of us only if we work together, and I intend to put this country on a path to success by working together and doing the hard things that should have been done a very long time ago.”

I'll be the Ronald Reagan if I can find a Tip O’Neill.

Lindsey Graham

Reach Self at (803) 771-8658

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