Nov 20, 2015 9:53 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
MANCHESTER – Lindsey Graham says “I’m looking for an away game when it comes to fighting ISIL.”
In a one-on-one interview Friday with NH1 News, the senator from South Carolina and Republican presidential candidate added that “the bottom line is to my opponents, to the President, to Hillary Clinton, we better go on offense. If we don’t hit them there, they’re going to hit us here.”
Graham made battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria and national security the centerpiece of his presidential campaign long before last week’s horrific terrorist attack on Paris.
“For two years I’ve been calling for a regional army supplemented by western forces including the United States, up to 10,000 boots on the ground, to go into Iraq and Syria to destroy ISIL before we get hit. There is no substitute for going on offense and destroying the caliphate in Syria with an American ground component. If you don’t understand that you’re not ready to be commander-in-chief,” Graham told NH1 News.
“People on my side are now talking about boots on the ground because they have to. I’ve been talking about boots on the ground because we should,” he added.
Asked if the added emphasis on national security and battling terrorism in the race for the White House in the wake of the Paris attacks will help his long shot campaign for the GOP nomination, Graham said “there was the election before Paris and there’s the election after Paris. After Paris people are going to be looking for somebody ready to be commander-in-chief on day one.”
Graham was very critical of President Obama’s handling of the fight against ISIS, saying “he’s been overwhelmed by the job.”
And he fired away at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, as well as his rivals for the GOP nomination.
“Hillary Clinton’s plan is woefully inadequate and people on my side are trying to make it up as they go. There’s nobody other than myself, humbly, that has a vision how to destroy ISIL,” he said.
Graham: "more relevant than ever"
Earlier this week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another longshot for the Republican nomination, ended his White House bid. Asked if he has also considered ending his campaign, Graham responded that “I feel like my voice is more relevant than ever.”
Graham pushed back against criticism this week by President Barack Obama towards Republicans who oppose the President’s plan to allow over the next year up to 10,000 refugees fleeing Syria’s bloody civil war.
The House of Representatives voted Thursday to put the brakes on the President’s plan. In the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, many Republican lawmakers and governors, joined by some Democrats, have vocally opposed allowing the refugees into the country.
Many of the lawmakers and governors point to the Paris attacks as proof that it’s too risky to provide a haven in the U.S. for those fleeing Syria’s bloody civil war. One of the attackers in Paris appeared to enter Europe posing as a Syrian refugee.
Graham said if he was in the White House right now, “I’d sit down with Congress to make that bill a law simply because after Paris if you don’t look at your refugee flow differently, you’re really crazy because they could infiltrate refugees being driven out.”
But he criticized former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, two of his rivals for the Republican nomination who initially advocated allowing just Christian refugees from Syria into the country.
“I think that’s a mistake. Do we not want a raped woman who’s Muslim or an abused child who happens to be a Druid,” Graham said.
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