Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is setting up a political committee to test the waters for a 2016 presidential run, told reporters to take him seriously because he reflects a “center-right” consensus within his party.
“I won in South Carolina by about 41 points,” he said, referring to the margin of victory in the GOP primary for his 2014 reelection bid.
The South Carolina Republican, best known as an outspoken military hawk and a fixture of the Sunday talk show circuit, was responding to a reporter’s point-blank question Thursday in the Capitol about why he should be taken seriously.
“How could a guy win in South Carolina by 41 points who voted for [Sonia] Sotomayor, [Elena] Kagan, embraces climate change, Israel and [thinks] immigration reform is necessary?” Graham said, echoing part of the question. “My party is center-right, and I’m in the right ditch. There’s an element of the left and the right, and I think it reflects both parties.”
As an early primary state, South Carolina plays an outsize role in the presidential nomination process.
Graham has faced questions about whether he’s serious about the rigors of a presidential bid or whether he’s merely running to elevate his pet issues.
“Working with the other side when it makes sense is not inconsistent with being conservative,” the senator said. “The reason I won is that I think I had a good rationale with regard to … immigration, that I’m seen as a strong national security person and that I represent a form of conservatism that’s acceptable to the reddest of red states. So for anybody running for president, look at my race.”