Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday took a controversial position for a Republican candidate: defending the budget deal between Congress and the White House.
“This budget, if it is paid for, will put $40 billion back into the Defense Department at the time we need it,” Graham said during the undercard portion of the GOP presidential debate held in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday night.
“The No. 1 goal of our government is to defend this nation,” Graham added.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki backed up Graham, saying he would support the budget on the same grounds.
“This is a bad deal, but to protect our military I would have signed it," Pataki said.
“Barack Obama is the first president in American history to hold our military hostage,” he added, referencing his recent veto of defense spending.
The CNBC debates are primarily focusing on issues concerning the economy and financial regulations. But all Republicans on stage faced the challenge of creating a YouTube moment — a statement sharp or even outrageous enough to make their campaigns finally catch fire.
With fewer participants — there are only four candidates on the undercard, compared with 10 in the main event — the earlier debate offers candidates an opportunity to talk in greater depth about their policy positions.
But the vastly lower national viewing audience means the candidates relegated to the undercard have not shifted since the last debate.
They are: current Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Graham and Pataki.
All have been hovering near 1 percent in national polls, and none have much money left in their campaign accounts.
The only candidate so far to profit from her time on the undercard enough to rise to the main stage has been former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Given no chance of winning several months ago, Fiorina leveraged a commanding performance on the undercard of the first Fox News debate in August to jump in the polls enough to be allowed into the top tier. She has since established herself there, and millions of dollars in fundraising have followed.
Santorum has repeatedly expressed his frustration at being relegated to what some pundits have called the “kiddie table.”
The social conservative, who won the Iowa caucuses last election on a tiny budget, has said he won last time despite performing terribly in national polling the year before.
Santorum said he resents TV networks using current polls — which he claims are meaningless — to sort the field artificially before voters have had a fair chance to do it themselves.