Lindsey Graham in Sunday Political Talk Show interviews during 2013-2015


On War & Peace: Military commitment of regional troops in Syria is necessary

Q: Do you think the American people are ready for a military commitment in Syria to take out ISIS and Assad?

GRAHAM: They better be, because if we don't destroy ISIL in Syria, which is their headquarters, we're going to get attacked at home. The entire region wants Assad gone, so there's an opportunity here with some American leadership to do two things, which is to destroy ISIL before we get hit at home and also to push Assad out and not give yet another Arab capital to Damascus.

Q: Robert Kagan wrote that the kind of operation that you are recommending could require 40,000 - 50,000 troops.

GRAHAM: I think it will require more than that, but the good news,10% of the force will come from Western powers. The force that we're talking about will come from regional armies from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey. They have regional armies. They would go into the fight if you put Assad on the table. They will pay for this war.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 29, 2015

On War & Peace: Regional, not US, army would keep stability in Syria

Q: The President says, because there is no ground force, military advisers tell him that it would require an occupational U.S. force. And that is a recipe for lots forces for a long period of time. What is your response to that?

GRAHAM: I haven't been told that by anybody. The holding force would be the region. We're talking about region coming together with a Western component, 90 percent them, 10 percent us. The holding will be done by Sunni Arab states. We will turn to Assad and say, you must go. Russia and Iran will be on the outside looking in to an entire regional army, including Turkey, with Western elements. They will fold like a cheap suit.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 29, 2015

On War & Peace: American troops should partner with regional army

Q: What is your strategy to deal with ISIS and Assad?

GRAHAM: I would form a regional army made of Arabs and Turks; American forces would be part of that army. We'd go in on the ground in Syria. We'd pull the caliphate up by the roots and we would take back land held by ISIL and hold it until Syria repairs itself. That requires American boots on the ground in Syria and we need more American boots on the ground in Iraq if we're going to protect the American homeland.

Q: If the Arabs such as Jordan and the Saudis and the UAE, Egypt, the Turks are eager to get in this fight, where are they?

GRAHAM: They're eager to get in the fight, but they're not going to go destroy ISIL unless we take a side out, too. To get a regional force, you have to accomplish two goals, to go in to destroy ISIL, which is a threat to the region, and also take out Assad, who is a puppet of Iran. Without putting Assad on the table, you're not going to be able to rally the region.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 15, 2015

On War & Peace: Russia will back down if US provokes it in deposing Assad

Q: Aren't you concerned that if we rally this coalition to take out not only ISIS but Assad, that that is going to be a war with Russia? Russia is now in Syria, doing everything it can politically, militarily, economically, to prop up Assad.

GRAHAM: Here's what I would do. I would tell the Russians that you're not going to use military force to keep Assad in power. That disrupts the region. It gives Iran more power at a time when they should have less. And the Syrian people are not going to accept Assad as their leader. So I would tell the Russians, if you want to fight for Assad, that will be your choice, but what you will be doing is fighting the entire world. And let Russia make a decision. And here's what they would do, they would back out.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 15, 2015

On War & Peace: If France invokes Article V, NATO should declare war on ISIS

Q: Do you believe if France requests that NATO invoke Article V (an attack on one is an attack on all), that NATO and the United States should formally declare war on ISIS?

GRAHAM: Absolutely. Here's what I believe, without adjusting our strategy the worst is yet to come when it comes to ISIL, that the Obama strategy regarding destroying ISIL is not working and will not work. I hope the French will invoke Article V. They should. The world should be at war with ISIL.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 15, 2015

On War & Peace: Need substantial boots on the ground against ISIL

Q: You have been saying for months that we need troops there on the ground to battle ISIS. What do you think of the president sending in these 50 Special Forces operators?

GRAHAM: Here's what I've said, I intend to destroy ISIL. They want three things: they want to purify the Islamic faith and take it back to the 1100s, they want to destroy the state of Israel the attack infidels like us. President Obama said he will degrade and destroy ISIL. Sending 50 American Special Forces into Syria shows that Obama is not all in, it is a sign of weakness to ISIL. And to our allies, sending 50 troops means that we're not committed to destroying ISIL. And if we're not committed to destroying ISIL, they will attack us here. These 50 American special operators are going into a very bad spot with no chance of winning and at the end of the day, this will not destroy ISIL.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 1, 2015

On Foreign Policy: Destroy Iran's nuclear program, & also its air force & navy

Q: You said that, as president, you would move to not only destroy Iran's nuclear program, but even take out its air force and navy if they went too far with this nuclear program. Do you really think Americans have the stomach for another war in the Middle East?

A: If the Iranians walk away from the table, and tried to break out and get a nuclear weapon, if we can't end their program peacefully, I would stop them. If they get a nuclear weapon, the Sunni Arabs will want a nuclear weapon of their own, and we're on the road to a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. I think a good outcome is to basically leave the interim deal in place and give the next president a chance to conclude a final agreement with the Iranians.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 12, 2015

On Civil Rights: Respect Supreme Court decision & fight for religious liberty

Q: In reaction to the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage rights, Ted Cruz called it "one of the darkest 24 hours in our history." Do you agree with his assessment?

GRAHAM: No. I think it's a transformational moment. There are a lot of upset people who believe in traditional marriage. They're disappointed, they're down right now. But, the court has ruled, so here's where I stand. If I'm president of the United States, here's what would happen. If you have a church, a mosque, or a synagogue, and you're following your faith, and you refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, because it's outside the tenets of your faith, you will not lose your tax-exempt status. If you're a gay person or a gay couple, if I'm president of the United States, you will be able to participate in commerce and be a full member of society, consistent with the religious beliefs of others who have rights also.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 28, 2015

On Principles & Values: Supported removal of battle flag following shooting

Q: Why did it take nine deaths [at an attack on an AME church] to change your mind on flying the Confederate flag at the capitol?

A: If you'd asked me the day before the attack, I would've said, "The compromise worked," we took the flag off the top of the dome, moved it by the war memorial, built an African American monument, that worked for most South Carolinians. But after the shooting, it didn't work. My state will never be able to move forward after this shooting if we don't take the flag down. The people at the AME church, the families of the victims changed everything by their grace, by their love, by their forgiveness, making it impossible for a guy like me to say, "Keep the flag up."

Q: When you see the flag now, do you see a symbol of hate or heritage?

A: After this shooting, and after the call for it to be taken down by the families of the victims, I see it as a road block to the future of my state. I see it being in a museum, where people can look at it any way they want.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 28, 2015

On Homeland Security: Lack of ISIL strategy is Commander-in-Chief malpractice

Republican presidential candidates are harshly critiquing President Obama's comments Monday regarding the lack of a "complete strategy" to confront ISIS in Iraq. "We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis," the president stated at the G-7 conference in Germany. He highlighted difficulties recruiting Iraqi soldiers, preventing the foreign inflow of ISIS fighters, and resolving sectarian tensions in the war-torn country.

"The threat posed by ISIL is growing exponentially, and President Obama's lack of a strategy is Commander-in-Chief malpractice," Lindsey Graham said in a statement. The South Carolina senator, who chairs several Senate subcommittees related to foreign affairs, has emphasized his credentials in an attempt to stand out from his opponents. He is a vocal advocate of a more aggressive policy in the Middle East that includes sending troops to Iraq.

Source: RealClearPolitics 2015 coverage: 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 9, 2015

On Free Trade: Make currency manipulation a key issue in trade negotiations

The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to the Trade Act (HR 1314). The amendment would have defined currency manipulation as a key issue for US trade negotiators to take into account during trade talks with other countries. A supporter, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said Japan and other Asian countries have used currency manipulation as a primary tactic to promote exports and discourage imports, creating an unfair trade dynamic for the US that hurts domestic manufacturers.

An amendment opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called it "far too risky" because it would derail prospects for signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian countries, subject US monetary policies to the threat of sanctions from overseas, and discourage currency exchange rate transparency by countries that export goods to the U.S. The vote, on May 22, was 48 yeas to 51 nays.

NAYS: Sen. Tim Scott R-SC

YEAS: Sen. Lindsey Graham R-SC

Source: Greenville News 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls May 30, 2015

On Homeland Security: Maintain FISA electronic surveillance for terrorist suspects

The USA FREEDOM Act (HR 2048), sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would establish new evidence requirements for the FBI to present to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court when seeking approval of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists, and make a variety of changes to FBI electronic surveillance programs and the oversight of those programs.

A supporter of calling a vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), said it accommodated privacy concerns by restricting the set of records related to terrorism investigations that the government can request from telecommunications companies, while still giving the government the powers it needed to stop terrorism.

A bill opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the bill failed to require companies to maintain telecommunications records for long enough to make investigations effective. The vote was 57 yeas to 42 nays, with 3/5 majority required to call a vote.

YEAS: Scott R-SC

NAYS: Graham R-SC

Source: Greenville News 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls May 30, 2015

On Environment: Climate change is real, but don't make a religion of it

I believe climate change is real, but I reject the cap and trade solution of Al Gore. He's made a religion. It's a problem.

I would like to clean up the air and water, become more energy independence, create jobs. I'm for offshore drilling. I'm for finding oil and gas that we own. I'm for coal, I'm for clean coal, I'm for natural gas but I would like a lower carbon economy over time. Clean up the air and create jobs in the process.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Apr 19, 2015

On Foreign Policy: Congress will not approve Iran nuclear deal

Q: President Obama seemed to indicate that he would be willing to lift sanctions on Iran faster than seemed to have been agreed. Is that yet another concessions to the Iranians?

A: Don't think there's a snowball chance in hell that a Congress is going to approve this framework the way it's set up. The ayatollah saying he gets immediate sanction relief with no intrusive inspections.

Q: So what's your plan for a nuclear deal with Iran?

A: I will release today nine core principles of what I think a good deal will look like. Any time, anywhere inspections of military/nonmilitary facilities will be a bipartisan must. So, this idea that we can't go where we need to go is going to fail. The Chinese are talking about building five reactors for the Iranians. Any nuclear enrichment program must be limited to one reactor. At the end of the day, you can't lift sanctions until the behavior of Iran changes. They can longer be a state sponsor of terrorism before you lift sanctions down the road.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Apr 19, 2015

On Tax Reform: Supports closing loopholes, means-testing higher income

Q: Is raising taxes as part of a grand bargain?

GRAHAM: I'm for Simpson-Bowles. It doesn't raise taxes, it closes loopholes and takes the money we would give to a few people and put it on the debt. We're $18 trillion in debt, 80 million baby boomers are going to retire in the next 20 to 30 years. We're going to wipe out Social Security and Medicare. We have to adjust the retirement age for younger people. People of my income level are going to have to have their benefits means-tested. Democrats are going to want a simpler tax code.

Q: What about that $18 trillion in debt?

GRAHAM: I'm for eliminating deductions and taking some of the money to buy down rates and put it on the debt. That's not raising taxes. That's solving a problem.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Apr 19, 2015

On Homeland Security: Restore defense cuts made automatically by sequestration

Senator Lindsey Graham made his first pitch to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate at the inaugural "Politics and Pie" town hall in Concord. This was his answer to a question about undoing the automatic defense cuts of sequestration:

"I worried about this from day one. I'm sick to my stomach. And here is the first thing I would do if I were President of the United States: I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We're not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We're not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts. Killing terrorists is the only option other than capturing them, because they're not deterred by death."

The military line was "not to be taken literally," according to a Graham spokesman. But [many newspapers] covered the Graham joke as a serious proposal; [one wrote]: "If taken literally, Graham is basically announcing his plan to stage a coup."

Source: Bloomberg News 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Mar 12, 2015

On Technology: I don't email & I've never sent an email

He's been a U.S. senator for 12 years, and was a Congressman for eight more before that, but South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham says he has never sent an email. In a discussion on NBC's Meet the Press about the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a home-based email server while she was secretary of state, Graham was asked, "Do you have a private e-mail address?"

Graham's answer: "I don't email. No, you can have every email I've ever sent. I've never sent one." He added: "I don't know what that makes me." The South Carolina senator said that the email issue raises important questions about Clinton's communications. "Did she communicate on behalf of The Clinton Foundation as Secretary of State?" he asked.

Fellow Republican Sen. John McCain made a similar statement about his email practices on MSNBC.

Source: Meet the Press 2016 interviews of presidential hopefuls Mar 8, 2015

On Homeland Security: The next stage of the fight against terrorism is in Africa

Q: Boko Haram slaughtered thousands in the same week that 17 people were killed in Paris [but the news was all about the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris]. Should the United States be doing more in Nigeria?

GRAHAM: Yeah, we should be doing more. But Boko Haram doesn't represent the threat to the homeland in my view that ISIL does and Al Nusra and other groups in Syria and Iraq. But this problem is spreading throughout the world. The next stage of the fight I think is Africa. But if we could show some resolve in Syria and Iraq and reset the table and go after these guys in Syria and Iraq with success, I think it would change the landscape throughout the world. Success anywhere breeds success everywhere. Failure in any one spot hurts you everywhere. But you're right, 2,000 people were killed in one weekend in Nigeria and the world basically ignored the story.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jan 18, 2015

On War & Peace: Returning from Iraq prematurely was a mistake

Q: Over the last 14 years, U.S. policy going after terrorist groups has been to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy. It's George W. Bush's policy; it's been President Obama's. Fourteen years, we've killed a lot of people, but we've not defeated this enemy. Why?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, once you liberate a country like Iraq, and you don't have a follow-up force, they fill in the gaps. Syria is a terror state. The civil war in Syria basically broke the country apart. And the only thing I can say is you have to deny the enemy safe haven. Returning from Iraq prematurely was a mistake. Not supporting the Free Syrian Army three or four years ago was a mistake. You've got to stay after these guys.

Q: What do you tell the country that's war-weary?

GRAHAM: You need to fight them over there or they're coming back here. It's better to partner than it is to go it alone. You've got to show the ability to stay with it. You try to get partners. The Free Syrian Army would be a good partner.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jan 18, 2015

On War & Peace: Form regional coalition to enforce no-fly zone in Syria

Q: You said, "Not supporting the Free Syrian Army three or four years ago was a mistake." Are you advocating more troops in Syria now?

GRAHAM: The answer now is to deny ISIL the safe haven they enjoy in Syria and Iraq because it is a platform to strike the United States. There are more [more terror attacks like in] Paris coming until you disrupt this network. There are more terrorist organizations with more safe havens, with more capability to hit the homeland than before 9/11. The answer is to form a regional coalition, America has to be part of it, go in on the ground, and get these guys out of Syria. The current strategy is failing. Everybody has told us on this trip that if you don't have a no-fly zone, the people we're training, the Free Syrian Army that we're training is going to go back into Syria and get slaughtered by Assad. There's no way to be successful on the ground without neutralizing Assad's air advantage. And so we need a no-fly zone desperately.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jan 18, 2015

On War & Peace: Ok to hold off Iranian sanctions but only while negotiating

Q: On Iran, Pres. Obama said, "My main message to Congress at this point is, just hold your fire. Nobody around the world, least of all the Iranians, doubt my ability to get some additional sanctions pass should these negotiations fail." Why not wait?

GRAHAM: I think we're trying to tell the Iranians that we would like a political negotiation, a diplomatic solution, but please understand in Iran that the Congress is intent on re-apply sanctions, if you walk away from the negotiating table, and if you cheat, I don't think that's a disruptive message. All we're telling the Iranians, "If you walk away from these negotiations, sanctions will be reapplied. If you cheat, they will be reimposed." But let me just say this. I'm willing to forgo sanctions if the president will take any deal he negotiates and brings it to Congress for our approval.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jan 18, 2015

On Foreign Policy: Condemn & isolate Cuba; they deserve no new engagement

Q: Let's talk about President Obama's surprise to resume relations with Cuba. You were very much against that. Isn't Cuba is a good place for Americans to be selling American products.

GRAHAM: Well, North Korea would be great place to sell products. They don't have anything. When America engages a country, we do so with our moral voice, just not cigars & rum. So, for the last 50 years, Cuba's gone from being an interventionist communist power in Angola to Grenada, to a backwater, poor dictatorship. And without any reason, we have changed our policy. Look in your vault of CBS News stories in 2013 and 2014 and show me one where Cuba is becoming more democratic. The Congress is not going to reinforce this policy. There will be no confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba because the Castro brothers are terrible dictators who deserve no new engagement. They deserve to be condemned and isolated.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls Dec 21, 2014

On Foreign Policy: Cuba is still a security threat to America; no aid

Q: What about restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba?

GRAHAM: When it comes to funding any proposed embassy in Cuba, I'm in charge of all foreign aid; will do everything I can to limit to size and scope of this embassy, because you are rewarding people who kidnap Americans and who really are still communists in every way.

Q: Do you think that Cuba at this point in time represents a security threat to America?

GRAHAM: Last year, the Cubans were shipping arms to North Korea in violation of the embargo. Yes. Cuba to me represents everything that threatens us. Are we safe when somebody right off our shores practices totalitarian communism in our backyard? They were actively trying to send weapons to North Korea a year ago. Should we be worried about North Korea? Yes. Should we be worried about Cuba? Yes. And Iran is watching. I can only imagine what the ayatollahs in Iran must be saying when our president reaches out to a communist dictatorship that has done nothing to change.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls Dec 21, 2014

On Foreign Policy: Sanctions on North Korea: terrorist list & China's help

Q: What should the president do about North Korea?

GRAHAM: Make it so hard on the North Koreans, they don't want to do this in the future. Reimpose sanctions lifted by President Bush. Put them back on the state sponsor of terrorism list. Put [them] on notice that it's just not a movie [referring to "The Interview", an anti-North Korea film]. It's our way of life. They attacked who we are. And when the president calls this [North Korean cyberattack on the movie's producer Sony] an act of vandalism , that just really bothers me greatly. It is an act of terrorism. And I hope he will respond forcefully.

Q: You're not talking about taking military action against North Korea, are you?

GRAHAM: I'm talking about putting them in a spot in the world where they are diminished beyond where they are today. I'm talking about consulting with China and holding them accountable. This is the first act of cyber-warfare that's really gotten a lot of attention. How the president handles this is very important.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls Dec 21, 2014

On Homeland Security: Fill Guantanamo with more terrorists instead of closing it

Q: You said recently that if the president released anybody else from Guantanamo Bay that you thought maybe impeachment was in order.

GRAHAM: I didn't say impeachment. I said there would be a constitutional crisis. And it is coming. Senator Kelly Ayotte will introduce legislation in 2015 to put a moratorium on all releases from Guantanamo Bay because of a 30 percent recidivism rate. There are all kind of restrictions on transferring prisoners that the president is ignoring. Rather than closing Guantanamo Bay, he should be filling up the place because terrorism on the march. I, along with Senator McCain, want to outlaw water-boarding. But this president takes every terrorist, reads them the Miranda rights, gives them a lawyer, and holds them for a few days and puts them in a federal court. We can't gather intelligence. There will be one hell of a fight between the president and Republicans and Democrats in 2015 over Guantanamo Bay.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls Dec 21, 2014

On Homeland Security: Benghazi:Focus on talking points, not how intel was gathered

Q: The Benghazi report says, (1) no outright intelligence failure; (2) no delay in attempts to rescue Benghazi staff; (3) those famous talking points were inaccurate, but not deliberately misleading. Senator Graham, the report says the misinformation was flawed, yes, but no political cover-up. So, does this exonerate the administration?

GRAHAM: In my view, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Elijah Cummings are doing a good job at looking at Benghazi as a whole, [alongside] DOD, the intel community, and the State Department...

Q: But yes or no?

GRAHAM: No. I think the report is full of crap, quite frankly.

Q: Why?

GRAHAM: The question was not how you gathered intel. Who changed the talking points? It went through several changes. Who came out with the version most politically beneficial to the administration? The people who have been looking at Benghazi in a stovepipe fashion have not come up with a reasonable explanation for all the shenanigans and the lack of being prepared.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 23, 2014

On Immigration: Need comprehensive reform, not partial executive action

Q: You are a supporter of immigration reform, but you opposed the president's execution action on immigration very strongly. Do you think it was unconstitutional?

GRAHAM: Yes. It's one thing to say, as an executive agency, "I don't have the money to prosecute everybody or to deport everybody, so I'm going to rank them in order." It's another for the president of the United States to say, "not only will I decide not to prosecute a group of people, but I will affirmatively give you legal status." That is well beyond executive action.

Q: So what to do?

GRAHAM: Immigration has been dogging the country since 2006. I have a solution that I have been supporting that is comprehensive, that would allow legal status to the people in question. But you do it through a congressional action, where you get the entire system fixed. His action does not secure the border. It doesn't fix a broken legal immigration system. And it leaves millions of people left out in terms of the 11 million.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 23, 2014

On Immigration: Driving out 11 million illegals impractical; fix the system

Q: You have heard the president say "pass a bill." You passed a bill in the Senate. You handed it to the House of Representatives, who decided not to do anything on it.

GRAHAM: Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that it's national security, that's cultural and it's economic. The Senate has done this three times. I love my House colleagues, but if you want a piecemeal approach, do it. But doing nothing? I'm disappointed in my party. Are we still the party of self-deportation? Is it the position of the Republican Party that the 11 million must be driven out? I have never been in that camp as being practical. I am in the camp of securing our borders first, fixing a broken legal immigration, have an E-Verify program so you can't cheat.

Q: Isn't the president saying, "you have got to deal with the 11 million?"

GRAHAM: No, he decided not to delay prosecution, but affirmatively granted legal status to five million people.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Nov 23, 2014

On Health Care: US troops in Africa is the right way to fight Ebola

The stronger Ebola gets in Africa, the more it spreads, the more entrenched it is, the more endangered we are. It seems to be that the president is all in when it comes to Ebola. I want to compliment him for sending troops to help get ahead of this in Africa.

But about the spread of Ebola throughout Africa: We're cutting the CDC's budget, the NIH budget. We're taking the military budget under sequestration cuts down to the smallest Army since 1940.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Oct 5, 2014

On War & Peace: U.S. ground troops to fight ISIL in Syria and Iraq

Q: Has there been any success in at least containing ISIS in Iraq?

GRAHAM: There's been some. The idea of hitting them in Syria is long overdue. But this strategy of aerial bombardment is not going to work to destroy ISIL. We have a series of half- measures with ISIL that are going to draw this conflict out, and will not lead to the ISIL's destruction.

Q: That includes US ground troops?

GRAHAM: I think most Americans understand, if we don't destroy ISIL, if they survive our best shot, that we are all less safe. And you cannot destroy ISIL in Syria without a ground component. And what we're doing with the Free Syrian Army is militarily unsound. There is no way that I can see how we fix the problem in Iraq and Syria without American ground troops. So, Mr. President, level with the American people. You need boots on the ground. American soldiers need to go back to Syria and Iraq as part of a coalition. And we're going to need more than 4,000 to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Oct 5, 2014

On War & Peace: We should have left 10,000 US troops in Iraq

Q: If we couldn't train Iraqi troops to be up to snuff...

GRAHAM: We did.

Q: But if we did, then wasn't the president's decision OK? Why should we have stayed in Iraq?

GRAHAM: Every military commander said we needed between 10,000 & 20,000 troops. President Obama wanted zero. He said he promised to end the war. Well, what he did is, he lost the war, and this has come back to haunt us. I hope the next president will understand, listen to your commanders. And ISIL is a result of these mistakes.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Oct 5, 2014

On War & Peace: 2012: Arm the Syrian rebels & fight Assad's air force

We had a chance in 2012 to train the Free Syrian Army. They were about to beat Assad. Hezbollah came in with Iranian help to turn the tide of battle. The Russians doubled down, and we abandoned the Free Syrian Army. But this strategy we have regarding the Free Syrian Army is going to get all of these kids slaughtered if you don't deal with Assad's air force. We can win in Syria. It's going to take commitment. It's going to take effort. And God help us all if we don't win.
Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Oct 5, 2014

On Foreign Policy: Without American leadership the world disintegrates rapidly

Q: Has the world really changed, and it's not as simple as the bad guys are in the Soviet bloc and the good guys are in the West?

GRAHAM: What we've learned from these changing times is that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. America is the glue that holds the free world together. When you see us missing or AWOL as President Obama's been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts. Russia is more aggressive, not less. The sanctions clearly are not working. Hamas is demanding open borders. Show me a statement by Hamas leadership that recognizes the right for Israel to resist, then I would consider that request. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy. Look what ISIS has been able to do in Syria and Iraq. Without American leadership, the world gets to be a very dangerous place and our allies, like Israel and Ukraine, suffer.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 27, 2014

On Foreign Policy: Sanctions against Putin; arm & train the Ukrainians

Q: You say that "Russia is more aggressive." I think that the White House has argued that they've finally gotten the European allies to agree to stiffen up their sanctions. Is Putin immune to sanctions?

GRAHAM: Well, let's look at it this way. Russia has dismembered the Ukraine, a neighboring nation. It is intimidating its neighbors. Russia has seized territory from the Ukraine. Here's what I fear with this passive response, this lack of decisive action. The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months and we're still thinking about it. The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard. And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world you see people like Putin.

Q: What would you do?

GRAHAM: I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included. I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukrainian military.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 27, 2014

On Foreign Policy: UN has become more anti- Israeli & anti-Semitic

When it comes to Israel, I would condemn the U.N. human rights report that holds [Israel's] role responsible for the activity here. The U.N. human's right report is a joke. The U.N. has becoming more anti- Israeli, anti-Semitic. I would push back, Congress will do this, Senators Schumer, Menendez and myself, we're going to push back against this report. When it comes to Syria and Iraq, I would come up with a military game plan in coordination with the regional allies to stop ISIS from growing in strength. I would push political reconciliation in Baghdad but I'd come up with a military plan to stop these terrorist organizations from growing in strength before they hit our homeland.
Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 27, 2014

On Foreign Policy: America is the glue that holds the free world together

Secretary Kerry gave the most ridiculous and delusional summary of American foreign policy I could imagine. It scares me that he believes the world is in such good shape. America is the glue that holds the free world together. Leading from behind is not working. The world is adrift. And President Obama has become the king of indecision. His policies are failing across the globe, and they will come here soon.
Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 20, 2014

On Immigration: Streamline and quicken deportations

Q: What about the crisis on the border, and immigration reform?

GRAHAM: There will be no money for supplemental [budget bills] without changes in the 2008 law. We have to streamline and quicken deportations. There'll be no immigration reform because of the crisis on the border. I blame Obama for this moment. But in 2015, if we start over, and the Republican Party doesn't get immigration reform right in 2015, our chances in 2016 of winning the White House are very low.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 20, 2014

On War & Peace: Israel: stay as long as needed in Gaza to deal with Hamas

Q: There are reports this morning of a serious escalation in the war in Gaza. What are you hearing?

GRAHAM: I'm hearing there may be some Israelis casualties coming from the tunnels where they come out into Israel. But my view of the Israeli operation: Stay as long as you need to stay, go wherever you need to go, do deal with a viper's nest called Hamas. If I were Israel, I would stay in Gaza as long as I needed to, to stop the rockets for good.

Q: When you see a ground operation moving in this direction, resulting in heavier Israeli casualties, do you have any words of caution for Israel?

GRAHAM: My only words to the Israeli government and people is, "Clear it out. Close the tunnels. Shut down the rocket sites. Stay as long as you need to stay." Over 1,500 rockets have been fired. The only reason they have as few Israeli casualties is because of Iron Dome [missile defense]. If it's left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 20, 2014

On War & Peace: Arm Ukraine; sanction Russia; more NATO troops to region

Q: What has Obama done wrong on Russia?

GRAHAM: [The administration] didn't call Putin the thug that he is. He didn't call for arming the Ukraine so they can defend themselves against rebel separatists supported by Russia. How about sanctions that would hit Putin as an individual? Their energy sector, their banking sector. The Europeans are never going to lead on this issue. It is indispensable that America lead.

Q: Obama would say that's a knee-jerk response to call for a more robust military reaction.

GRAHAM: Nothing knee-jerk is going on here. Indecision reigns. President Obama is trying to be deliberative. It comes off as indecisive. He's trying to be thoughtful. It comes off as weakness. I'm suggesting European, American-organized sanctions that go after Putin individually. I'm suggesting we put more NATO troops around Ukraine, that we rebuild the missile defense systems that Obama took down to let Putin know the path of least resistance is not to continue to dismember the Ukraine

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jul 20, 2014

On War & Peace: ISIS plans to take Jordan; that throws Mideast into turmoil

Q: You think US airstrikes are the only answer in Iraq?

GRAHAM: Economic instability that comes from a collapsed Iraq will affect gas prices and our economic recovery. But the main reason is, if ISIS is not dealt with, that's the staging area for a new attack on the United States. They have a lot of wealth. They will plan an attack against our country. And my biggest fear is that they're going to march toward Jordan. And I hope America understands that, if the king of Jordan goes, if he's the victim of these guys, then the whole Mideast is in turmoil.

Q: And you really thinks that's possible?

GRAHAM: Yes.

Q: What makes you think they have the organization to pull something like that off?

GRAHAM: What makes you think they don't? Look what's happened. They have basically occupied a portion of Syria. They're going into Baghdad. They will consolidate economic and military power. They will march towards Jordan and Lebanon. And they will use that space to attack us.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 15, 2014

On War & Peace: OK for Iran to help in Iraq, but not to dominate

Q: People might not realize this, that Iran, who is generally no friend of the U.S., is now potentially going to work with the U.S. on Iraq.

GRAHAM: We have common interests.

Q: Does that make you feel comfortable?

GRAHAM: No. Hell no, it doesn't. Why did we deal with Stalin? Because he was not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn't fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians. And the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without Maliki. But I don't want Iran to dominate Iraq. And that's where they're headed. If the central government falls, the Iranians are going on the Shia area of Iraq, the south. Don't let the Iranians save Baghdad. Let us save Baghdad, so there will be a chance at a second government.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 15, 2014

On War & Peace: ISIS makes Iraq & Syria the staging area for the next 9/11

Q: On the issue of Iraq, the toll so far: 4,424 deaths, 32,239 wounded, and then the cost of money, $770 billion. Why spend one more dollar or risk one more life?

GRAHAM: Because Iraq and Syria combined are going to be the staging area for the next 9/11 if we don't do something about it. The people holding ground in Iraq also hold ground in Syria. [We must attack ISIS to] stop the march on Baghdad. Form a new government. Send Petraeus and Crocker over, somebody who knows [what to do].

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Jun 15, 2014

On Technology: Ban online gambling (but not casino gambling)

In a letter to Congressional leaders and the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) asked Congress to reverse a 2011 Department of Justice interpretation of the Wire Act that opened the door to legalized online gambling in the states.

In an effort to stop the gambling, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) are expected to introduce a bill this week to restore the former interpretation of the Wire Act. The introduction of their bills come after heavy lobbying from GOP mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who opposes the legalization of online gambling.

In his letter, Perry--who received funding from Adelson during his 2007 campaign for governor--said restoring the former interpretation of the Wire Act and reinstating the federal ban on online gambling would bolster state rights.

Source: The Hill weblog 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls Mar 25, 2014

On Foreign Policy: Create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia

Q: The US has made it clear that it disapproves of what Russia has done. You've been tweeting about strong statements. What more do you want at this point?

GRAHAM: Putin very much cares about democracy on his borders. I would like to create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia. Let's accelerate Georgia's admission into NATO. Moldavia is under siege by Russia. Let's help Moldavia, Poland and the Czech Republic. We abandoned our missile defense agreements with them to protect Europe from a rogue missile attack coming out of the Mideast. Russia backed Obama down. If I were President Obama, I would reengage Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense. I would admit Georgia to NATO. I would have a larger military presence in the Balkans to NATO members who are threatened by Russia. I would fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin. I would suspend his membership in the G-8, be the G-7. And every day he stays in the Ukraine, I would add to it.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Mar 2, 2014

On Homeland Security: More budget & more than 440,000 troops against North Korea

Q: Given the kinds of warfare that are seen in the future, do we need as many people as WWI, WWII, Vietnam, any of those?

GRAHAM: Well, my goal is to deter war. Read the report as to what's going on in North Korea. Do you think the person running North Korea is rational? It is a gulag. It is Nazi type tactics being practiced in 2014. What if the leader of North Korea woke up tomorrow and said it's time now to take the south. 440,000 members of the United States army is a gutted army. We do have a lot of technology available to our troops. Every soldier goes into battle with an array of technology and equipment not possessed in World War II. But you still need trigger pullers. So this budget by President Obama guts our defense. It is the smallest army since 1940. The smallest Navy since 1915 and the smallest air force in modern history. So if you're going to modernize your military for future conflicts, this budget will not allow you to do it.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls Mar 2, 2014

The above quotations are from Sunday Political Talk Show interviews during 2013-2015, interviewing presidential hopefuls for 2016.
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Page last updated: Nov 29, 2016