2016 Presidential Candidate Profile: Lindsey Graham

Alexander J. Segal's picture

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Candidate Profile: Lindsey Graham

Current Office: United States Senator from South Carolina

Age: 60 (born July 9, 1955)

Party: Republican

Real Clear Politics Poll Average (as of December 13, 2015): National 0.0%; Iowa 0.0%; New Hampshire 0.3% (11th)1

Campaign Website: lindseygraham.com

Lindsey Graham is the senior United States Senator from South Carolina. He was elected to the Senate in 2003, and prior to that served for four terms in the U.S. House. Graham was a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps for 33 years, retiring in 2015 with the rank of Colonel.


Senator Lindsey Graham has been one of the most prominent Republicans in advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. Senator Graham was a part of the “gang of eight” immigration reform effort and the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration. Senator Graham supports a path to citizenship for those here illegally after they register with the government, pay fines, learn English, and “get in line behind every legal immigrant.” Senator Graham supports these reforms in conjunction with measures to increase border security, including mandating E-Verify nationwide [see blog], an electronic Entry-Exit system, and a border fence.

Despite his support for comprehensive immigration reform, Senator Graham opposes both DACA [see blog] and DAPA [see blog] because they subvert the rightful role of Congress in the immigration reform process, and are temporary measures rather than permanent solutions.


Senator Lindsey Graham has always been a strong supporter of Israel. He has supported Israel in all of its military engagements in Gaza and Lebanon over the past decade. He pledges to repair the damage caused by the Obama Administration's policies toward Israel. Senator Graham opposed the Iran deal, although he supported Senator Bob Corker's bill to force a vote on the Iran deal that was destined to fail. He supports the United States taking a much more active role in the Syrian Civil War. Senator Graham supports increased aid to moderate Syrian rebels, a no-fly zone, and a greater presence on the ground. He supported airstrikes against Syria after it was confirmed that Assad had used chemical weapons.

Issue of Interest — Why Senator Graham is Running:

From the outset, it was clear that Senator Graham did not have a viable path to the Republican nomination. All indications are that he ran to advance his vision for the Republican Party going forward, especially on issues such as immigration, foreign policy, and reaching deals with Democrats. Many perceived his entry initially as an effort to push back on the foreign policy views being advanced by Senator Rand Paul [see blog], but now he has become the harshest critic in the field of the damaging rhetoric by Donald Trump [see blog].


I have always admired Senator Graham's principles and passion for strengthening the Republican Party. Although one can question the balance that his comprehensive immigration reform efforts strike between enforcement and legal immigration, the Republican Party needs more people with Senator Graham's passion for supporting legal immigration. On foreign policy, Senator Graham has been a true friend of Israel. While I question some of his policy preferences in Syria, he always brings an important and educated perspective to our foreign policy discussions.

Senator Graham is too much of a no-hoper to consider spending a vote on (barring a big effort in his home state of South Carolina), but his perspective and insight make every debate that he is a part of worth watching.


  1. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_republican_presidential_nomination-3823.html (retrieved on December 13, 2015)

Resources and Materials:


2016 Presidential Candidate Profile:  Lindsey Graham