South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham gave an extremely low-key speech at the Sunshine Summit in Orlando on Friday afternoon, concentrating on foreign policy and his concern that the Republican Party could be blowing the Hispanic vote with candidates’ tough talk on immigration.
Graham isn’t going anywhere in the GOP presidential race, and he essentially acknowledged that in his speech, talking more about how the Republican Party can win the presidency, not how he can personally.
He spent a considerable amount of his 21 minutes on stage blasting Hillary Clinton‘s tenure as Secretary of State, specifically about her role in the Benghazi controversy.
“A commander in chief is supposed to comfort the families … not lie to them,” he said in reference to how Clinton spoke with the families of the four Americans who died in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 about a disturbing anti-Islamic video. It’s since been reported that she was emailing daughter Chelsea and two foreign governments that it was a terrorist attack.
“The world is falling apart,” Graham warned. “I’ve never seen more danger than I do today. The last thing you want to do is continue the foreign policy of Barack Obama. The the worst possible outcome is to promote Hillary Clinton, because when people needed her, she should have had their backs, but she was not there.”
He added that while some people think Benghazi doesn’t matter, he disagrees. “It matters a helluva lot. The next president of the United States needs to know what they’re doing or we’re all going to pay a heavy price.”
In speaking about radical Islamic terrorists, Graham talked tough.
“I would kill every one of those bastards that I could find,” he declared, speaking quietly and receiving tepid applause. He said that if elected he would call the Ayatollah in Iran and cancel the recent nuclear deal, and called Iranian leaders “religious Nazis.”
On the domestic front, Graham said he worries about the GOP losing the Hispanic vote in 2016, and said the country needs to increase its legal immigration numbers, because of a declining U.S. population.
“I don’t think we’re going to deport 11 million people,” he said in a direct rebuke to Donald Trump. He then went on to tout how religious and anti-abortion Hispanics are, and why they should be welcomed to the Republican Party. “To those who say Republicans need to be socially liberal to win an election, you don’t know what you’re talking about, but we have to reach out to faith-based minorities. I intend to do that.”
Whether he does that as a leading U.S. senator whose profile has grown in his far-flung run for the presidency is unknown. Also unknown is how long he’ll remain in the race before Iowa caucus voters go to the polls in February.