Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced on Thursday that he has created an exploratory committee to study a possible run for the presidency in 2016. Capitol Hill reporters got a preview of a potential Graham candidacy when the senator described himself as a centrist lawmaker who would get America “out of the left ditch” without putting it “in the right ditch.”
Politico reports that Graham stressed his work with Democrats, his votes in favor of Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, and his ability to appeal to groups that do not traditionally vote Republican during the announcement.
“We have a demographic problem,” Graham said. “And I represent a form of conservatism that is acceptable to the reddest of red states.” […]
“How could a guy win in South Carolina by 41 points who voted for Sotomayor, Kagan, embraces [the notion that] climate change is real and immigration reform is necessary?” said Graham, who noted that he is “inclined to support” Obama’s attorney general pick, Loretta Lynch. “My party is center right… I am conservative by any rational definition. Working with the other side when it makes sense is not inconsistent with being conservative. I will never concede to anyone that conservatism requires a hands-off approach to solving problems.”
Graham said his next steps are to talk to Republican campaign donors and take polls to test if he has a viable path to the presidency.
At least one of his Senate colleagues is decidedly on Team Lindsey: John McCain (R-AZ) has recently made remarks that seem designed to nudge Graham toward a run. From CNN:
“My illegitimate son Lindsey Graham is exploring that option,” the two-time presidential candidate said, prompting laughter from reporters during a press conference in the prison at Guantánamo Bay.
“So I am strongly encouraging Sen. Lindsey Graham, particularly with the world the way it is today. No one understands the world today in the way that Lindsey Graham does, in my view.”
Politico reports that Graham’s exploratory committee, called “Security Through Strength,” is headed by George W. Bush’s former ambassador to Canada and that Graham plans to make a decision about a potential run by April. The GOP’s 2016 primary field might have suffered the loss of Mitt Romney this week, but it has gained one patriotically-named exploratory committee.