By BILL BARROW
ATLANTA (AP) — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham will announce his campaign for president next month, after saying Monday he is running for the Republican nomination. Here’s a snapshot of where Graham stands on issues likely to be debated in the Republican presidential primaries.
Graham was one of the few Republican co-sponsors of a plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, which passed the Senate in 2012. The measure, approved with mostly Democratic votes, died in the Republican-controlled House, and it led some South Carolina county GOP committees to censure Graham. He remains unapologetic and disputes charges that he favors “amnesty.” He explains often how the Senate measure called for increased border security, and created a legal path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally only if they met a long list of requirements, including paying taxes, passing a criminal background check and learning English. Graham also sides with those in the GOP who argue the party risks losing generations of Latino voters to Democrats if it continues to stand in the way of an immigration overhaul.
Graham hammers President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as “appeasement toward autocratic dictators, thugs and adversaries.” He argues the U.S. must engage early, often and widely in the world, criticizing American troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan and calling for more aggressive intervention in Syria’s civil war. Graham is also an outspoken advocate for Congress to have a greater say in any nuclear deal with Iran, which he believes should “forbid them ever having the pathway to develop a nuclear weapon.” He opposes Obama’s moves to normalize relations with Cuba, but supports a charter extension for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. products such as jetliners.
Graham also defends the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency, arguing the programs meet constitutional muster because, he says, the government doesn’t spy on individual citizens without probable cause.
BUDGET AND ENTITLEMENTS
Graham has supported a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and giving the president the power to veto specific items from spending bills. He has voted for numerous tax cuts and opposed tax hikes, including those that did not include corresponding cuts in spending. He has voted both for and against various measures to raise the nation’s borrowing limits, and he has a mixed record on spending bills pitched as economic stimulus, supporting some smaller packages but opposing larger ones, including Obama’s 2009 measure. He voted against the Affordable Care Act and supports the GOP’s “Ryan Budget” that would curtail Social Security and Medicare spending and benefits over time. He’s also backed various proposals to allow individual, private Social Security accounts.
A constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexual couples has earned Graham’s vote, as did a ban on gay adoptions in Washington. A lawyer before entering politics, Graham has argued that if the Constitution is interpreted to grant a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it could also be interpreted to grant marriage rights to polygamists. Yet Graham has also called for gay couples to be able to live “free and open” lives. On abortion, Graham receives high marks from state and national organizations that oppose a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. But he’s also tried to bridge the gap between conservatives who support absolute bans on abortion and those who support exceptions for rape, incest and health of the mother. Graham argues absolute bans aren’t politically feasible.
Graham has said he believes human activity helps drive the rise in greenhouse gases that most climate scientists believe are causing a rise in global temperatures and sea levels. In recent years, he worked with Democrats privately on legislation to address the emission of such gases, but shied away from the matter as his 2014 re-election approached. Ultimately, he sided with his party on a vote to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. He opposes carbon taxes, from cap-and-trade plans aimed at energy producers to increased usage taxes on end-line consumers.