Lindsey Graham hopeful his experience will lead him to front of field

PELHAM, N.H. — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he expects Republican voters to grow tired of the party’s trendy anti-establishment stars and start calling for political experience, giving him his chance to break from the back of the pack and emerge as their nominee.

Graham, 60, hosted a meet-and-greet yesterday with Arizona Sen. John McCain for two dozen people at the John H. Hargreaves Memorial VFW Post 10722 in the southern New Hampshire town of Pelham. With less than four months to go before the Granite State’s Feb. 9 primary, he told the Herald he’s well aware the GOP establishment has fallen out of favor with an electorate besotted with reality TV star and Republican front-runner Donald Trump and his formidable challengers, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

“Everybody’s frustrated. About 30, 35 percent say, ‘Anybody but people that are in there,’ and I get that,” Graham said, “but I think experience will matter over time. Don’t replace one novice (president) with another. I think I can make the case that when it comes to being commander in chief and resetting world order, you need somebody who has actually walked the walk and been there.

“I think this desire to have no experience is going to give way to the reality that the next president needs to be ready to go on day one as commander in chief. That’s one reality he (Trump) will not be part of,” vowed Graham, an attorney and retired Air Force Reserves colonel.

Graham insisted he is the rudder the Republican ship needs to get back on course.

“The key is to get Washington to work better together,” he said. “Name one Republican who’s tried harder to work with Democrats than I have.”

Still, Graham seized the moment in front of his audience to take a few shots at potential Democratic Party nominees. He called Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders “my favorite socialist — and there’s a lot to pick from.”

Vice President Joe Biden is “the world’s nicest man,” he added, “who’s been wrong about everything.”

McCain urged the group to start a buzz around town about Graham, who serves with him on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I don’t care how much money you spend in New Hampshire. The people of New Hampshire examine the candidates,” McCain said. “Consider this fellow. That’s what I’m asking.”


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