Morning Joe, 4/8/14, 9:19 AM ET

Lindsey Graham takes on GOP field in primary

NBC News' Kasie Hunt travels down to South Carolina to catch up with Sen. Lindsey Graham as he files paperwork to run in the state's GOP primary for his Senate seat.

Sen. Graham talks shirtless Putin, Jeb Bush 2016, and Obamacare

Updated

“Morning Joe” went to South Carolina to catch up with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham as he heads into a crowded primary battle against a half dozen tea party activists determined to unseat him. In an interview and on the campaign trail, Graham spoke out on everything from compromise to his election to shirtless Putin, but we couldn’t air it all, so here are our favorite seven quotes.

ON CONGRESS…

“We’re at 11% approval rating in Congress. Who are the 11%, and what the hell do they like?” 

ON VLADIMIR PUTIN…

“I’ve got one rule of thumb—any world leader riding around on a horse without their shirt’s got a problem. We can handle that guy.”

ON VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN…

“I’ve known Joe Biden for a very long time. He’s the world’s nicest man, and if you ever have a couple hours you have to go visit him and listen to what he has to say…My answer to Putin is to have him meet with Biden—we’ll get Crimea back.” 

ON GEORGE W. BUSH…

“Somebody that we don’t talk much about that we should: George W. Bush. I miss him. I miss President Bush’s stalwart leadership. He made some mistakes, but the one mistake George W. Bush never made is he understood the enemies of this nation. He understood that you have to fight them over there to keep them from coming here.”

 ON 2016…

“The nominee for president has to grow this party. We have got to expand this party. They’ve got to show a willingness to embrace solutions to immigration that are not self-deportation. That’s what I’m looking for in a nominee. Somebody who can lead.”

ON JEB BUSH…

“We’ve got a lot of good candidates. I think Jeb Bush would do well in South Carolina. I think he’d do well in Florida. Everybody says we’ve got Bush fatigue – I think everybody would judge him as an individual. He’s very capable.” 

ON HEALTH CARE…

“2014 is going to be a referendum on the size and the scope of the government, and the proxy will be the Affordable Care Act. All Republicans voted no, and all Democrats voted yes. The reason this thing has been delayed so many times, it just is so hard to implement, and I don’t see it ever working the way it’s been built. Having said that, what is the Republican Party’s alternative? Do you know? I really don’t either. I think my party needs to have an alternative.”

Lindsey Graham, South Carolina and States of Play

Sen. Graham talks shirtless Putin, Jeb Bush 2016, and Obamacare

Updated