Press Release - The Des Moines Register's Obradovich: Will Graham's pragmatism play in Iowa?
Obradovich: Will Graham's pragmatism play in Iowa?
By Kathie Obradovich
July 1, 2015
The Des Moines Register
Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said Wednesday he's "not the most ideologically pure person in this contest."
Understatement, you say? The Republican senator from South Carolina, meeting with Des Moines Register reporters and editors, outlined his ideas for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He called out members of his own party who lump undocumented immigrants in the same category as rapists and drug dealers.
He said he thinks climate change is real and must be addressed in a way that doesn't wreck the economy. He includes means testing for Social Security in a plan for entitlement reform that also includes raising the retirement age. He wants a flatter, simpler tax code but scoffs at the idea of abolishing the Internal Revenue Service.
Graham also wants to ban abortion after 20 weeks, repeal Obamacare while retaining a few provisions, and take a far more active military role in the world than the current administration is pursuing. He argues that the ability to make judicial appointments is the "big prize" for 2016 and he doesn't want Hillary Clinton to have it. He often refers to Clinton simply as "her."
He said the future can be better for young Americans, but "change has to come. Both parties have to give or we're dead."
Yet Graham not only makes a strong case for the importance of the Iowa caucuses but also argues he can do well here.
"People who poll nationally never make it to South Carolina more times than not because you look under the hood," he said of Iowa caucusgoers. "If it weren't for the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire and South Carolina, you would buy this race. If it were Florida, New York and California, it would be like buying soap. I wouldn't have a chance in hell."
He said to win the nomination, he has to "work my butt off" and connect with not only conservatives but Hispanics and young people. "I'm trying to convince people in my party that the best way we beat her is to put somebody on the stage that has lived life like the average American."
Graham said, however, that he sees the Iowa caucuses as a way to gain momentum.
"If I get 15,000 votes, I'm off to the races," he said. "... Because if I break out in Iowa, John McCain won New Hampshire twice — 40 percent of the voters in New Hampshire are independents. I wouldn't be here in Iowa unless I thought I could win South Carolina. Iowa can help me a lot. I've just got to get to know people."
He said he believes there are plenty of "practical conservatives" and "plenty of good people here in Iowa that understand ideology has to give away to common sense at times for the good of the country."
Graham's mix of conservatism and pragmatism makes him a tough sell to many caucusgoers. But he has a chance to gain a toehold in Iowa...
He has the personality to pull it off — we'll see if he also has the persistence.
Lindsey Graham, Press Release - The Des Moines Register's Obradovich: Will Graham's pragmatism play in Iowa? Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/312538