By John Celock
In a speech dominated by foreign policy. U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) entered the ever-growing Republican presidential field Monday.
Graham, an ally of 2008 GOP Presidential nominee John McCain in the U.S. Senate, kept the focus on his core issues of foreign affairs and the military during the speech. Graham, who is trailing in single digits in national polls, took swipes at President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and promised a hard line on terrorism and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also took a swipe at Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former secretary of state.
“I’ve got more national security experience than any candidate in this race, and that includes you Hillary,” Graham said.
Graham focused on the need to refocus the country on foreign policy and the military, saying that it has hurt the United States on the world stage. He criticized Obama, saying that the president has not shown leadership on international policy while in office.
“Our allies feel the absence of American leadership, our adversaries are taking advantage,” Graham said during a rally in Central, S.C. “Our enemies are emboldened and our friends are going it alone.”
Graham used his speech to pledge a stronger line against Putin, along with stopping Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and combatting terrorism. He focused briefly on the need for international development saying that it would help end terrorism by providing a better life for those who might become terrorists.
Graham, who started his third term in the Senate earlier this year, is the latest candidate to enter the growing Republican field and the one most focused on foreign policy in the race. Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2002, Graham served for eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served one term in the South Carolina House of Representatives prior to being elected to Congress in 1994.
During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Graham has made national security his top priority, serving on relevant committees in both chambers. He has long worked with McCain in opposition to a series of Obama initiatives in the foreign affairs realm.
Graham spent a portion of his speech on domestic policy, pledging to work on environmental issues and energy independence. Noting the death of his parents early in his life, he said that he would work to protect Social Security.
“I will be a champion for limited and effective government and a strong national defense,” he said. “I will be a voice for social conservative values without apology and animosity.”