RJC in DC 2015 — Lindsey Graham

RJC in DC 2015 — Lindsey Graham

A few days before before dropping out of the presidential race, a passionate supporter of Israel was determined to go down swinging.

At the Republican Jewish Coalition 2015 Presidential Candidates Forum, South Carolina Lindsey Graham took an interesting approach.


Although Senator Graham was stuck at 1% in the polls and has plenty of detractors in his home state, he is among friends when he speaks to the RJC. His staunch support of Israel goes back decades, and his hawkish foreign policy goes over very well with the RJC crowd. He was presented by RJC member Kenny Bialkin.

He felt that he did not need to reiterate his credentials, freeing him up to just talk about other issues of importance to him.

“If elected president, I may have the first all Jewish cabinet in America.”

He spent a great deal of time on his personal narrative. He then criticized Senator Ted Cruz on immigration. He called the GOP rhetoric on immigration hateful.

“I believe Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party’s chance to win an election that we cannot afford to lose.”

He even said that former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s endorsement of self-deportation was a mistake.

“You think you’re going to win an election with that kind of garbage?”

He then spent time on abortion, despite his position being out-of-step with many people in the RJC. The RJC as an organization does not take an official position on abortion.

“I’m pro-life. You’re pro-choice. ISIL is neither. The tax code is a monstrosity for all of us.”

Referring to ISIL instead of ISIS was a mistake since the L stands for “Levant,” which does not exist and does not recognize Israel. Graham’s credentials were enough to give him a pass on that issue even though President Obama has been criticized for using the term ISIL.

Graham said the GOP must allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. He then went after Hillary Clinton.

“If you want to change Barack Obama’s foreign policy, why would you elect his Secretary of State?”

He then laced into Hillary Clinton over Benghazi before reminding voters why he can be frustrating at times.

“I will work with Democrats.”

He attacked the GOP strategy of shutting the government down over Obamacare.

“I embrace working with the other side because the next president is going to have to.”

He then spoke about Social Security, invoking Simpson-Bowles.

He acknowledged his low standing in the polls and said, “Help me stay in this race.”

“Do you think I even need to talk to you about my support for Israel?”

“You know where I’m at.”

About John Kerry, Graham said, “Never let someone negotiate with Iranians who has never bought a car.”

He warned companies that “If you do business with Iran, you’re not going to do business with American banks.”

He called the leader of Iran a “religious Nazi.”

“Ted Cruz says he will keep Assad in power, I sure as hell will not.”

Cruz did not specifically say he would keep Assad in power. He is simply closer to the non-interventionist foreign policy wing of the GOP than the Neoconservative wing.

He again said ISIL instead of ISIS.

On Putin, “He’s got a pair of twos and we’ve got a full house and he’s kicking our ass because we have a leader that doesn’t know how to play cards.”

Graham outlined three threats to the state of Israel: Iran with a nuclear weapon, ISIL, and the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

Graham threatened to defund the United Nations if they harass one IDF soldier. He told the Palestinians to decide who they want to be, making it clear that the lack of peace with Israel rests squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians.

Graham took no questions.

While he is respected by many RJC members, his speech did not alter the minds of those who prefer other candidates because of issues that go beyond Israel. His willingness to work with Democrats was just not a winning message for voters wanting to uproot the progressive agenda and completely replace it with conservatism.

On foreign policy, while he will not be the messenger, the eventual nominee would be wise to incorporate his message into their platform.

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