Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham: Hillary Clinton Would Tear Rand Paul Apart

The hawkish Republican still chooses Paul over Clinton



South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, for now the latest Republican to enter the presidential race, appeared on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper to talk about a person under surveillance for terrorism being shot and killed during a confrontation with a Boston police officer and an FBI agent, and the passage of the USA Freedom Act, and how the "lone wolf" provision (which has never been used) is nevertheless necessary because of incidents like the one in Boston.

At the end of the segment, Tapper asked why, if foreign policy and terrorism were such important issues to Graham, he'd vote for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over Hillary Clinton, who Tapper called "rather hawkish" for a Democrat, and noted was far more closely aligned to Graham on those issues.

Graham's response:

Well I would vote for the nominee of my party because they've been able to prove fellow Republicans that their view of the world was right. That's not a dilemma I'm going to face. But Rand Paul and I actually agree on a lot of domestic issues, like saving Social Security and Medicare, but on foreign policy we're worlds apart. If he did get the nomination, I think she would be able to tear him apart because his view of foreign policy is one step behind leading from behind, and at the end of the day the average American sees radical Islam as a threat much greater than the NSA.

Graham is more cordial to Paul than Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who identified Rand Paul and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as on the same side as ISIS when it came to the expiration of a couple of provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

Rand Paul, of course, to the dismay of some anti-war libertarians who'd like him to be more like his anti-war libertarian father, Ron Paul, has acknowledged the threat of radical Islam, and the also the role of U.S. counter-terrorism and foreign policies that have contributed to an environment in which its adherents thrive.

And while Clinton leads all potential Republican nominees she is polled against, Paul comes closest, less than three points behind on average. Nearly a year and a half out from the election, there's probably still a considerable name recognition gap between Clinton and any Republican save for Jeb Bush, who polls an average of five points behind. And one recent poll showed Paul with an eight point lead over Clinton among independents.

Tapper also asked Graham about the argument that things like smoking and heart disease kill far more people than terrorism. "Heart disease and smoking is something you can change if you choose to," Graham said, while ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) "is not going to change unless somebody makes them." He called the group, and other terrorist groups, which he said controlled more land, weapons, and men then ever before "religious Nazis" that could not be "accommodated, appeased, or compromised with." Unlike Paul, Graham ignores the role of U.S. interventionism in making room for groups like ISIS. Graham also ignored the point of the smoking comparison—that it kills far, far more Americans than terrorism, and that many other things, preventable and otherwise, also do. "The threats from smoking are real, at the end of the day you have a chance to stop smoking," said Graham. "The only way you're gonna stop ISIL is for somebody to go over there in partnership with people in the region and kill these guys."