By Sarah Ferris - 08/12/15 11:48 AM EDT
GOP presidential contender Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns MORE told a campaign rally Tuesday that he can’t support a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, because it would endanger national security.
In a speech on foreign policy in South Carolina, Graham said he is opposed to federal funding on Planned Parenthood but warned a government shutdown would impair “our military, our intelligence community, the people we rely upon to protect us.”
The South Carolina senator’s stance puts him in line with Senate leadership but at odds with the majority of the 2016 field, who have backed the hard-lined approach advocated by fellow Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzAnti-Trump leaders sending 'advance team' to Cleveland: report Trump's support among white Protestant Republicans ticks up GOP senator pushes Trump to adopt 'constitutional agenda' MORE (R-Texas) and Rand PaulRand PaulTrump flexes new digital muscle Republicans question Trump's trip to Scotland Hate TV customer service? So does your senator MORE (R-Ky.).
“Let me just be clear about me and Planned Parenthood. If I were president, I would never submit a budget with one dime for Planned Parenthood,” Graham said, according to a report from Roll Call. “I am not going, as Senator Graham, to shut the government down because of this fight.
“Anybody that wants to shut down the government is shutting down the ability to stop the next attack, which I think is coming if we don’t do something differently,” he said, specifically calling out Cruz.
Over the last month, Planned Parenthood has been targeted by an anti-abortion group that has released six videos attempting to show the health provider involved in illegal activity. Planned Parenthood has fiercely denied the claims.
The videos, which are mostly comprised of secretly recorded footage, have inflamed conservatives on Capitol Hill and in statehouses around the country — putting pressure on 2016 candidates to take a strong stance against the health group.
Billionaire businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpScott Brown: Warren should prove Native American heritage with DNA test Trump: Warren is a 'racist' After Brexit vote, is anything left of Britain? MORE is the only candidate to defend Planned Parenthood, telling Fox News on Tuesday night that he supports federal funding for some parts of the organization.
"There are many ways to do that, because I'm totally against the abortion aspect, but I've had many women, I've had many Republican conservative women come up and say Planned Parenthood serves a good function other than the one aspect," he said in an interview with Sean Hannity. "We have to help women."
Graham, along with his Senate GOP colleagues, has already voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the video controversy, though the effort ultimately failed with support from only one Democratic senator.
Graham delivered his remarks in Columbia, S.C., in a speech focused on foreign policy. During the same appearance, he announced members of his South Carolina National Security Coalition.
The South Carolina senator will give another speech in his home state on Wednesday, his third in as many days.