Graham: Rand Paul's foreign policy worse than Obama's
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“His record, in my view, shows a foreign policy vision one step behind leading from behind,” the South Carolina Republican told reporters. “All I can say, if he’s the nominee, I will support him, but if he’s the nominee of the party, I think we risk giving up the central issue of the 2016 campaign, which will be foreign policy.”
Graham added that, while he likes Paul, “We’ve had a dispute about foreign policy ever since he’s been here. ... I think Sen. Paul’s record on this issue is frankly behind President Obama.”
Paul on Tuesday called Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, “lapdogs” for President Obama’s foreign policy.
“I think that would be news to the White House,” Graham said Wednesday in reply. “You could say a lot of things about John McCain and Lindsey Graham; being a lapdog for Obama would be a hard case to make.”
Paul and Graham could face off for the party’s presidential nomination if Graham decides to jump into the race. Paul announced his bid earlier this month.
Asked whether his comments were an argument for a nominee with more foreign policy experience, Graham joked, “I think that would be an argument for someone with an accent.”
Graham said, if he doesn't run, he hopes the party’s nominee will be able to make a “forceful case” for being commander in chief.
“I hope that our nominee, if it is not me, will be able to make a forceful case that they will be a good commander in chief, and they will break the deteriorating cycle of Barack Obama’s failed foreign policy,” he said. “That’s why I’m concerned about Sen. Paul. ... I think he would have the worst chance of anybody to make a case against Obama’s foreign policy.”
The senators will soon get a chance to highlight their foreign policy chops with the Senate poised to take up legislation that will let lawmakers weigh in on any deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
Graham said he supports the legislation, which was crafted by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) under an agreement last week. While he said his colleagues have a right to introduce amendments, he warned against trying to attach provisions that could sink the legislation.
“I don’t know what the leadership's up to,” he said about the amendment process. “But anybody that monkeys with this bill will run into a buzz saw. ... If you're trying to score political points, don't score it here.”
Republicans have voiced their concerns about the Corker-Cardin agreement, which shortens congressional review time. Cardin said Wednesday he’s been told Republicans have a lot of interest in amendments.
But Graham said he thinks it’s unlikely the Iran legislation will end up stalled like the debate on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which he said is “probably in purgatory.”
The South Carolina Republican added that if he was president, he would “insist” that a deal on Iran's nuclear program be reviewed by Congress.
Negotiators have until June 30 to finalize a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Graham said he wants Hillary Clinton, widely considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, to weigh in on the deal.
“If I were Hillary Clinton, I would want to make sure it’s a good deal. If I’m running for president on the Democratic side, I wouldn’t want to inherit a bad deal,” he said. “I want to hear what she says about the deal.”