Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), gearing up for his first presidential campaign, conceded this week, “I’m always told how much I suck.” He added, “I bring some of that on myself.”
For example, at a campaign event in New Hampshire the other day, the South Carolina Republican said that if he were president, he’d force Congress to undo the sequestration cuts undermining the military. “I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this,” Graham said. “I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to.”
Taken at face value, Graham made it sound as if he would launch some kind of military coup, forcing the legislative branch to approve the Graham administration’s demands.
The senator, of course, was kidding – though I can’t help but wonder what the political world’s reaction might be if President Obama told a similar joke – and Graham’s use of the word “literally” apparently shouldn’t be taken, well, literally. The senator exaggerates for effect all the time.
But as Graham’s bid for national office gets underway, the uproar over his awkward attempt at humor serves as a reminder that his presidential campaign is off to a rough start.
Almost two months after the South Carolina Republican announced that he was “definitely” looking at a presidential run, an online straw poll from his home state’s party still did not include him.To make the oversight hurt just a little more, the straw poll had 25 names on it, including such unlikely candidates as former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It even listed the state’s junior senator, Tim Scott.
Making matters slightly worse, a new poll in South Carolina found most of Graham’s constituents like him, but nearly two-thirds of them don’t want him to run for the White House.
During a recent Sunday show appearance, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the senator about his home-state voters and their lack of support for his presidential ambitions
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why are the people who know you best weighing in against a run?GRAHAM: Well, a lot of them are Democrats. They probably don’t want a Republican running for president.
South Carolina, it’s worth noting, is one of the nation’s reddest red states, voting Republican in nine of the last nine presidential elections. The state has a Republican governor and a Republican-run state legislature. South Carolina has a congressional delegation of nine men, eight of whom are Republicans.
If South Carolinians aren’t on board with Graham’s bid for national office, it’s not because Democrats are in the majority in the state.