Senator Lindsey Graham officially dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for president on Monday. His campaign confirmed his decision earlier in the day. Graham, a South Carolina Republican serving his third term, addressed his supporters in a video and an email. Graham’s focus on national security and fighting terrorism was influential in the overall primary debate, but he was not well known outside South Carolina or the Senate. He failed to poll above single digits nationally or in the early voting states. Republican Senator John McCain shared his disappointment in Graham’s decision saying Republicans have lost our most qualified, thoughtful, fearless and honest presidential candidate.
Graham stood out in the crowded Republican field by promoting his efforts at compromise with Democrats on issues such as reducing the federal debt and fixing immigration laws. Graham, 60, won a third Senate term last year after defeating a big crowd of primary challengers without a runoff. He returns to the U.S. Senate with five years left on his term, and is frequently mentioned as potential defense secretary if a Republican wins the White House in 2016. Although his poll numbers suffered in the last few weeks, even in his home state, he has the backing of several Republican leaders in South Carolina. If Graham chooses to endorse one of the other remaining candidates, it could sway some votes before South Carolina Republicans go to the polls in February. South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore believes that Senator Graham and his associates could have a major impact on the presidential primary.
Senator Graham has an incredibly strong and loyal grassroots network in South Carolina. Given Senator Graham’s huge primary victory in South Carolina just last year, the Graham network could have a major impact on South Carolina’s presidential primary.”
Graham began exploring the possibility of a campaign early this year and officially declared his candidacy on June 1. He raised enough money to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, but started losing ground when the national Republican Party and the sponsors of the televised debates divided the field into front runners and long shots, and he was relegated to the second tier debates. His decision makes this his first political defeat. Graham has held a perfect record on Election Day, one election to the South Carolina house, five to the U.S. House and three to the U.S. Senate. Graham has gained some praise from President Obama for his willingness to take a position on ISIS.
What’s interesting is that most of the critics have not called for ground forces. To his credit, I think Lindsey Graham is one of the few who has been at least honest about suggesting, here is something I would do that the president is not doing — he doesn’t just talk about being louder or sounding tougher in the process.”
Graham retired from the Air Force Reserves this year after 33 years of serving as a military lawyer. Graham — who recently urged Republicans to tell Trump to “go to hell” but also did not rule out accepting a Cabinet position in a Trump administration in the future.