Lindsey Olin Graham (born July 9, 1955) is an American politician and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel serving as the senior United States Senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party.
A native of Central, South Carolina, Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1977. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1981. He served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard then in the Air Force Reserves, attaining the rank of colonel. He worked as a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1992, serving one term from 1993 to 1995. He then served in the United States House of Representatives, representing South Carolina's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to four terms, receiving at least 60% of the vote each time.
In 2002, Graham ran for the U.S. Senate after eight-term Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond announced his retirement. Graham won the primary unopposed and defeated Democratic opponent Alex Sanders in the general election. Graham was re-elected to a second term in 2008, defeating Bob Conley. He won a third term in 2014, defeating Democrat Brad Hutto and Independent Thomas Ravenel.
Graham is known in the Senate for his advocacy of a strong national defense, his support of the military, and as an advocate of strong United States leadership in world affairs. He is also known for his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on many issues like campaign finance reform, line item veto, global warming, waterboarding ban, immigration reform and his belief that judicial nominees should not be opposed solely on their philosophical positions. He is also a critic of the Tea Party movement, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.
On May 18, 2015, Graham informally announced his candidacy for President of the United States, followed by a formal announcement on June 21, 2015, in his hometown of Central, South Carolina. On December 21, 2015, he ended his campaign for the presidency. He later endorsed Jeb Bush for President. After Bush suspended his campaign on February 20, Graham subsequently endorsed Ted Cruz. In May 2016, Graham refused to support or vote for Donald Trump when he became the presumptive nominee; and later the Republican Presidential candidate.
|United States Senator
from South Carolina
January 3, 2003
Serving with Tim Scott
|Preceded by||Strom Thurmond|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd district
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Butler Derrick|
|Succeeded by||Gresham Barrett|
|Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 2nd district
January 12, 1993 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Lowell Ross|
|Succeeded by||William Sandifer|
|Born||Lindsey Olin Graham
July 9, 1955
Central, South Carolina, U.S.
|Education||University of South Carolina (BA, JD)|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1982–1988 (Active)
1989–1995 (Air National Guard)
|Unit||U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps|
Lindsey Olin Graham was born in Central, South Carolina, where his parents, Millie and Florence James "F.J." Graham, ran a restaurant-bar-pool hall-liquor store, the "Sanitary Cafe". After graduating from D. W. Daniel High School, Graham became the first member of his family to attend college, and joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. When he was 21, his mother died of Hodgkin's lymphoma aged 52, and his father died 15 months later of a heart attack aged 69. Because his then-13-year-old sister was left orphaned the service allowed Graham to attend University of South Carolina in Columbia so he could be near home and care for his sister, whom he adopted. During his studies, he became a member of the Pi Kappa Phi social fraternity.
Upon graduating, Graham was commissioned as an officer and judge advocate in the United States Air Force in 1982. He was placed on active duty and in 1984, he was sent to Europe as a military prosecutor and defense attorney, serving at Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1984, as he was defending an Air Force pilot accused of using marijuana, he was featured in an episode of 60 Minutes that exposed the Air Force's defective drug-testing procedures. After four years in Europe, he returned to South Carolina and then left active duty in 1989. He subsequently entered private practice as a lawyer.
During the 1990–91 Gulf War, Graham was recalled to active duty, serving as a judge advocate at McEntire Air National Guard Station in Eastover, South Carolina, where he helped brief departing pilots on the laws of war. In 1998, the Capitol Hill daily newspaper The Hill contended that Graham was describing himself on his website as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran. Graham responded: "I have not told anybody I'm a combatant. I'm not a war hero, and never said I was.... If I have lied about my military record, I'm not fit to serve in Congress", further noting that he "never deployed."
In 1998, Graham was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 2004, he received his promotion to colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve at a White House ceremony officiated by President George W. Bush. That year, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces held that it was improper for Graham to serve as a military judge while a sitting member of the Senate.
In 2007, Graham served in Iraq as a reservist on active duty for a short period in April and for two weeks in August, where he worked on detainee and rule-of-law issues. He also served in Afghanistan during the August 2009 Senate recess. He was then assigned as a senior instructor for the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps. In 2014, Graham received a Bronze Star medal for serving on the task force that oversaw the detention of military prisoners. In 2015, Graham retired from the Air Force with over 33 total years of service, after reaching the statutory retirement age of 60 for his rank.
In 1992, Graham was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from the 2nd district, located in Oconee County. He defeated Democratic incumbent Lowell W. Ross by 60% to 40% and served one term, from 1993 to 1995.
In 1994, 20-year incumbent Democratic U.S. Congressman Butler Derrick of South Carolina's northwestern-based 3rd congressional district decided to retire. Graham ran to succeed him and, with Republican U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond campaigning on his behalf, he won the Republican primary with 52% of the vote, defeating Bob Cantrell (33%) and Ed Allgood (15%). In the general election, Graham defeated Democratic State Senator James Bryan, Jr. by 60% to 40%. As a part of that year's Republican Revolution, Graham became the first Republican to represent this district since 1877.
In 1996, he was challenged by Debbie Dorn, the niece of Butler Derrick and daughter of Derrick's predecessor, 13-term Democratic Congressman William Jennings Bryan Dorn. Graham was re-elected to a second term, defeating Dorn 60% to 40%. In 1998, he won re-election to a third term unopposed. In 2000, he was re-elected to a fourth term against Democrat George Brightharp by 68% to 30%.
He was a member of the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. He was the only Republican on the Committee to vote against any of the articles of impeachment (the second count of perjury in the Paula Jones case), famously asking: "Is this Watergate or Peyton Place?"
During his service in the House, Graham served on the following committees:
In 2002, long-time Republican U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond decided to retire. Graham ran to succeed him and won the Republican primary unopposed. In the general election, he defeated Democrat Alex Sanders, the former President of the College of Charleston and former Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, by 600,010 votes (54%) to 487,359 (44%). Graham thus became South Carolina's first new U.S. Senator since 1965. He served as the state's Junior Senator for only two years, serving alongside Democrat Ernest Hollings until he retired in 2005.
When Graham ran for a second term in 2008, he was challenged in the Republican primary by National Executive Committeeman of the South Carolina Republican Party Buddy Witherspoon. Graham defeated him by 186,398 votes (66.82%) to 92,547 (33.18%), winning all but one of South Carolina's 46 counties. Graham then defeated Democratic pilot and engineer Bob Conley in the general election by 1,076,534 votes (57.53%) to 790,621 (42.25%), having out-spent Conley by $6.6 million to $15,000.
Of all the Republican Senators up for re-election in the 2014 cycle, Graham was considered one of the most vulnerable to a primary challenge, largely due to his low approval ratings and reputation for working with and compromising with Democrats. He expected a primary challenge from conservative activists, including the Tea Party movement, and Chris Chocola, President of the Club for Growth, indicated that his organization would support a primary challenge if an acceptable standard-bearer emerged.
However, a serious challenger to Graham failed to emerge and he was widely viewed as likely to win, which has been ascribed to his "deft maneuvering" and "aggressive" response to the challenge. He befriended potential opponents from the state's congressional delegation and helped them with fundraising and securing their preferred committee assignments; he assembled a "daunting multimillion-dollar political operation" dubbed the "Graham machine" that built six regional offices across the state and enlisted the support of thousands of paid staffers and volunteers, including over 5,000 precinct captains; he assembled a "staggering" campaign warchest and "blanketed" the state with positive ads; he focused on constituent services and local issues; and he refused to "pander" to the Tea Party supporters, instead confronting them head-on, arguing that the Republican party needs to be more inclusive.
In the run-up to the Republican primary, Graham's approval rating improved. According to a Winthrop poll from February 2013, he held a 59% positive rating among Republican likely voters. In the primary, held on June 10, 2014, Graham won with 178,833 votes (56.42%). His nearest challenger, State Senator Lee Bright, received 48,904 votes (15.53%). In the general election, he defeated Democratic State Senator Brad Hutto and Independent Thomas Ravenel, a former Republican State Treasurer.
Graham has been referred to by Tea Party opponents as a "moderate Republican". He describes himself, however, as a "Reagan-style Republican", and has been described as a fairly conservative Republican with "a twang of moderation" and as having "an independent streak".
Much of the Tea Party criticism focuses on his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on issues like climate change, tax reform and immigration reform and his belief that judicial nominees should not be opposed solely on their philosophical positions. He voted to confirm both of President Obama's Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. For his part, Graham has criticised and confronted the Tea Party, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.
|“||We lost. President Obama won. I've got a lot of opportunity to disagree, but the Constitution, in my view, puts an obligation on me not to replace my judgment for his, not to think of the hundred reasons I would pick someone different... I view my duty as to protect the Judiciary and to ensure that hard-fought elections have meaning in our system. I'm going to vote for her [Kagan] because I believe this election has consequences. And this president chose someone who is qualified to serve on this court and understands the difference between being a liberal judge and a politician. At the end of the day, it wasn't a hard decision... She would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, chose wisely.||”|
In the National Journal's ideological rankings of Senators, Graham was named 41st most-conservative in 2003, 38th most-conservative in 2004, 43rd most-conservative in 2005, 33rd most-conservative in 2006, 24th most-conservative in 2007, 15th most-conservative in 2008, 26th most-conservative in 2009, 24th most-conservative in 2010, 42nd most-conservative in 2011, 33rd most-conservative in 2012 and 40th most-conservative in 2013.
During the Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for the nomination of Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court, a question arose concerning Alito's membership in a Princeton University organization which some said was sexist and racist. In response, Alito stated that he "deplored" certain racist comments that had been made by the organization's founder. While Graham allowed that Alito might just be saying this because he wanted the nomination, Graham concluded that he had no reason to believe that because "you seem to be a decent, honorable man." Alito's wife and sister characterized Graham's statements as supportive.
During an appearance on Face the Nation on April 3, 2011, Graham "suggested that Congress take unspecified though formal action against the Koran-burning by Florida preacher Terry Jones," in light of an attack on United Nations personnel triggered by Jones' actions. In asserting that "Congress might need to explore the need to limit some forms of freedom of speech," Graham argued that "Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war," and claimed that "during World War II, we had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy."
On May 23, 2005, Graham was one of the so-called Gang of 14 senators to forge a compromise that brought a halt to the continued blockage of an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees. This compromise negated both the Democrats' use of a filibuster and the Republican "nuclear option" as described in the media. Under the agreement, the Democrats would retain the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and subsequently, three conservative Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William H. Pryor, Jr.) received a vote by the full Senate.
In response to the 2013 disclosures about the United States National Security Agency and its international partners' global surveillance of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, Graham said that he was "glad" the NSA was collecting phone records. He said: "I'm a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States. I don't think you're talking to the terrorists. I know you're not. I know I'm not. So we don’t have anything to worry about."
On July 25, 2013, the US Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously adopted an amendment by Senator Graham to the "Fiscal Year 2014 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill" that would seek sanctions against any country that offers asylum to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In July 2005, Graham secured the declassification and release of memoranda outlining concerns made by senior military lawyers as early as 2003 about the legality of the interrogations of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
Regarding U.S. Citizens accused of supporting terrorism, senator Lindsey Graham has stated before the senate,
In response to this and a June 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing detainees to file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detentions, Graham authored an amendment to a Department of Defense Authorization Act attempting to clarify the authority of American courts. The amendment passed in November 2005 by a vote of 49–42 in the Senate despite opposition from human rights groups and legal scholars who contended that it limited the rights of detainees.
Graham has said he amended the Department of Defense Authorization Act in order to give military lawyers, as opposed to politically appointed lawyers, a more independent role in the oversight of military commanders. He has argued that two of the largest problems leading to the detainee abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib were this lack of oversight and troops' confusion over legal boundaries.
Graham further explained that military lawyers had long observed the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention, but that those provisions had not been considered by the Bush administration in decisions regarding the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. He has claimed that better legal oversight within the military’s chain of command will prevent future detainee abuse.
In February 2006, Graham joined Senator Jon Kyl in filing an amicus brief in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that argued "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear "pending cases, including this case" brought by the Guantanamo detainees.
In a May 2009 CNN interview, Graham referred to the domestic internment of German and Japanese prisoners of war and U.S. Citizens as a model for domestic detention of Guantanamo detainees by saying, "We had 450,000 Japanese and German prisoners housed in the United States during World War II. As a nation, we can deal with this."
Graham was a supporter of "comprehensive immigration reform" and of S. 2611, the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill of 2006 as well as S. 1348 of 2007, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. His positions on immigration, and in particular collaborating with Senator Ted Kennedy, earned Graham the ire of conservative activists. The controversy prompted conservative activists to support a primary challenge in 2008 by longtime Republican national committeeman Buddy Witherspoon, but Graham won the nomination by a large margin.
In July 2010, Graham suggested that U.S. citizenship as an automatic birthright guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be amended, and that any children born of illegal immigrants inside the borders of the United States should be considered illegal immigrants. Graham alleged that "Half the children born in hospitals on our borders are the children of illegal immigrants." Responding to the Graham claim, The New York Times cited a Pew Foundation study estimating that illegal immigrants account for only 8 percent of births in the United States and that 80 percent of the mothers had been in the U.S. for more than one year.
In November 2012, Graham and Schumer re-opened their talks on comprehensive immigration reform. On January 28, 2013, Graham was a member of a bi-partisan group of eight Senators which announced principles for comprehensive immigration reform. On June 23, 2013, Graham said that the Senate was close to obtaining 70 votes to pass the reform package.
Graham opposes extending background checks, saying that "universal background checks are going to require universal [gun] registration." He has, however, called current gun laws "broken", citing an example of a woman who pleaded guilty by reason of insanity to attempting to kill President George W. Bush, but who was then able later to pass a background check and buy a gun. To this end, in March 2013, he joined with Senators Jeff Flake, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor in introducing a bill that would close a loophole by flagging individuals who attempt to buy guns who have used an insanity defense, were ruled dangerous by a court or had been committed by a court to mental health treatment. It did not address the gun show loophole.
Graham opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Graham is a cosponsor of the Healthy Americans Act.
Graham criticized fellow Senator Rand Paul, after Paul stated "I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines." Graham said that Paul was "creating anxiety for no good reason" and "looking at this issue through a libertarian's eyes, not a physician's eyes."
|“||As to freedom, it is cherished, it is hard to come by, it is hard to hang on to. But freedom without responsibility is chaos, so to those who push the idea that freedom would allow an individual to do anything, anywhere, at any time, I reject. Your freedom ends where my ability to raise my family safely begins. So I would urge every American to vaccinate their children and I would reject any effort to stop vaccinations until someone can show me a scientific reason to do so.||”|
On December 10, 2009, Graham co-sponsored a letter to President Barack Obama along with then Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman announcing their commitment to passing a climate change bill and outlining its framework. Graham has been identified as a leading supporter of passing a climate change bill and was thought to be a likely sponsor for the final bill. The Senators have identified a green economy, clean air, energy independence, consumer protection, increasing nuclear power and regulating the world's carbon market as the key features to a successful climate change bill. In response to Senate Democrats shifting their priorities to immigration issues, a reaction to Arizona's passage of an illegal immigration law, Graham withdrew his support for the climate bill, leaving its passage in doubt.
Graham told reporters in June 2010 that "The science about global warming has changed. I think they've oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they've been alarmist and the science is in question. The whole movement has taken a giant step backward." He also stated that he planned to vote against the climate bill that he had originally co-sponsored, citing further restriction of offshore drilling added to the bill and the bill's impact on transportation.
Graham supports an interventionist foreign policy. Graham and his fellow Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who were frequently dubbed "the three amigos", travelled widely, pushing for American military intervention, particularly after the September 11 attacks. Their influence reached its zenith in 2007 as President Bush advocated for his surge strategy in Iraq, declining shortly before Lieberman retired from the Senate in 2013. Kelly Ayotte, who joined the Senate in 2011, has been considered Lieberman's replacement in the group.
On November 6, 2010, at the Halifax International Security Forum, Graham called for a pre-emptive military strike to weaken the Iranian regime. He has also argued that "the U.S. needs to keep at least 10,000 troops in Iraq into 2012," saying that "If we're not smart enough to work with the Iraqis to have 10,000 to 15,000 American troops in Iraq in 2012, Iraq could go to hell."
In August 2011, Graham co-sponsored with Senator Jeanne Shaheen Senate Resolution 175, wherewith he contended that "Russia's invasion of Georgian land in 2008 was an act of aggression, not only to Georgia but to all new democracies."
He is an advisor to The Atlantic Bridge.
Graham is a strong, unapologetic supporter of Israel, and threatened to derail the confirmation of President Obama's nomination for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, remarking that Hagel "would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history."
On January 29, 2013, in an interview with Fox News, he claimed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "got away with murder", following her testimony about the 2012 Benghazi attack. But the next year he would concede that the House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi was, as he put it, "full of crap", and that the Administration had been cleared of many of the charges therein.
On February 28, 2013, Graham criticized President Obama and both political parties on the Senate floor for allowing the budget reduction to occur with "two-thirds of the budget" exempt from reductions and said the impact on the Department of Defense would create a "hollow military" that "invites aggression".
On July 16, 2013, Graham suggested the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, because of "what the Russian government is doing throughout the world." Graham also said the U.S. should aim to "drive the Russian economy into the ground."
In October 2017, in the wake of the Tongo Tongo ambush which killed four U.S. soldiers, Graham expressed surprise that there were a thousand U.S. troops in Niger: "I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger." A few days later, Graham called for an expanded role of the U.S. military in Niger: "You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field."
In January 2018, and in the first known congressional criminal referral in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Graham, along with Chuck Grassley, recommended charges against Christopher Steele, one of the people who sought to expose Russian interference. Grassley and Graham said that they had reason to believe that Steele had lied to federal authorities. According to The New York Times, "It was not clear why, if a crime is apparent in the F.B.I. reports that were reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department had not moved to charge Mr. Steele already. The circumstances under which Mr. Steele is alleged to have lied were unclear, as much of the referral was classified."
In May 2015 Senator Graham said: "If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL [Islamic State], I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you."
Although Graham had earlier signed Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, in June 2012, he went on record supporting the closure of tax loopholes without compensating decreases in other tax revenue, saying "We're so far in debt, that if you don't give up some ideological ground, the country sinks." As U.S. Representative from South Carolina, Graham received grades of B in 1995, B+ in 1996, A in 1997 and 1998, B+ in 1999, A in 2000, B in 2001, and C+ in 2002, and as U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Graham has received grades of A in 2003, B+ in 2004 and 2005, A in 2006 and 2007, C in 2008, A in 2009 and 2010, B- in 2011, B+ in 2012, and C+ in 2013 from the National Taxpayers Union, a conservative taxpayers advocacy organization. The Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies identifies Graham, during his U.S. House and U.S. Senate tenure, as having a mostly protectionist and pro-subsidies voting record.
Following a multiple shooting incident at an historic African-American church in Charleston on June 17, 2015, Graham canceled all campaign events to return to South Carolina. In response to questions from the press regarding the calls from some, following the incident, to remove the Confederate flag at a war memorial on the South Carolina State Capitol grounds, Graham said: "Well, at the end of the day it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision. [That] would be fine with me, but this is part of who we are." He continued, "The flag represents to some people a civil war, and that was the symbol of one side. To others it's a racist symbol, and it's been used by people – it's been used in a racist way." Regarding the shooter responsible for the incident, Graham said, "We're not going to give this a guy an excuse about a book he might have read, or a movie he watched, or a song he listened to, or a symbol out anywhere. It's him ... not the flag."
In a statement issued later, Graham said: "There can be no doubt that the shooting . . . was racially motivated and signals to all of us that the scars of our history are still with us today. This murderer said he wanted to start a race war; he has failed miserably. In Charleston this weekend, I saw a community coming together. I saw people seeking solace in what they share together, not in what makes them different."
In April 2017, Graham flew to Houston, Texas to raise money from "superstar plaintiffs lawyer Mark Lanier" and "tort reform foes." The fundraiser was timed just as House Republicans began to advanced tort reform legislation such as class action lawsuit and the asbestos bankruptcy trust system. (Graham used to be a trial lawyer before he entered public office.) Because of the makeup of the number of Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, if Graham voted against the proposals along with Democrats, he could effectively stop them in their tracks.
In 2016, several news stories reported that Graham was the only Republican to receive political contributions from the Boston-based trial lawyer firm, Thornton Law Firm. The Thornton Law Firm is nationally known for its expertise in asbestos-related litigation. Over a ten-year period, Graham receives $62,800 in campaign contributions from the firm’s partners. In 2006, the firm was opposed to a congressional bill that would have shifted asbestos cases from courts to a trust fund-based system. According to The Boston Globe, Graham "helped peel away enough GOP support in the Senate to ensure the trust funds bill’s death on Valentine’s Day 2006."
The Boston Globe ran a multi-part investigative report on contributions made from the firm’s partners. The report found that the firm, in almost every case, would reimburse partners’ political contributions—in the exact amount—within 10 days of the contributions being made. Between 2010 and 2014, the firm’s partners and one of their wives contributed $1.6 million to politicians; $1.4 million was given back to the partners from the firm. The firm told reporters that according to outside consultants the practice was not unlawful because the checks are not bonuses, instead coming out of the partners’ firm equity accounts.
In 2012, Graham's endorsement was highly sought, but he declined to endorse one of the Republican candidates ahead of the January 2012 South Carolina Republican primary. After Rick Santorum withdrew from the race in April 2012, leaving Mitt Romney as the presumptive nominee, Graham endorsed Romney.
During his Senate re-election race in October 2014, while discussing immigration and foreign policy issues with a reporter from The Weekly Standard, Graham said: "If I get through my general election, if nobody steps up in the presidential mix, if nobody's out there talking ... I may just jump in to get to make these arguments." And on March 7, 2015, at a “Politics and Pies” forum, Graham advocated the reversal of defense spending cuts and quipped: "If I were President of the United States, I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to."
On April 19, 2015, Graham told Chris Wallace, on the Fox News Sunday show, that he was "91% sure" he would run for president. "If I can raise the money, I'll do it," he said. And on May 18, 2015, Graham informally announced that he would run for president on CBS This Morning, saying he was running because he thinks "the world is falling apart."
In July 2015, Graham called Republican candidate and frontrunner Donald Trump a "jackass" during an interview on CNN. In response, Trump criticized Graham for asking him for help to get on Fox & Friends and gave out Graham's mobile phone number.
On December 21, 2015, Graham suspended his presidential campaign, due to lack of support and polling poorly, and, on January 15, 2016, endorsed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. After it appeared certain that Donald Trump would become the Republican candidate for President in May 2016, Graham announced that he would not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, commenting: "I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I'm not going with him." On November 8, 2016, Graham announced that he had voted for Evan McMullin.
|1994||James E. Bryan, Jr.||59,932||40%||Lindsey Graham||90,123||60%||*|
|1996||Debbie Dorn||73,417||39%||Lindsey Graham||114,273||60%||Lindal Pennington||Natural Law||1,835||1%|
|1998||(no candidate)||Lindsey Graham||129,047||100%||Write-ins||402||<1%|
|2000||George Brightharp||67,170||30%||Lindsey Graham||150,180||68%||Adrian Banks||Libertarian||3,116||1%||*|
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1994, write-ins received 13 votes. In 2000, Natural Law candidate LeRoy J. Klein received 1,122 votes and write-ins received 33 votes. George Brightharp ran under both the Democratic and United Citizens Parties and received 2,253 votes on the United Citizen line.
|Year||Democratic||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|2002||Alex Sanders||487,359||44%||Lindsey Graham||600,010||54%||Ted Adams||Constitution||8,228||1%||Victor Kocher||Libertarian||6,648||1%||*|
|2008||Bob Conley||785,559||42%||Lindsey Graham||1,069,137||58%||Write-ins||608||<1%|
|2014||Brad Hutto||480,933||39%||Lindsey Graham||672,941||54%||Thomas Ravenel||Independent||47,588||4%||Victor Kocher||Libertarian||33,839||3%||*|
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, write-ins received 667 votes. In 2014, write-ins received 4,774 votes.
|U.S. Senate Republican primary election in South Carolina, 2008|
|U.S. Senate Republican primary election in South Carolina, 2014|
Graham has never been married and has no children. He helped to raise his sister, Darline Graham Nordone, after the deaths of his mother and father, which occurred within fifteen months of one another, leaving the two without parents when Graham was 22 and she was 13. Experiencing the early deaths of his parents, Graham says, made him mature more quickly, and Nordone, who introduced her brother at his formal announcement of his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, said she hoped to be with him on the campaign trail frequently to show voters his softer side. "He's kind of like a brother, a father and a mother rolled into one," she said. "I've always looked up to Lindsey."
|South Carolina House of Representatives|
|Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 2nd district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from South Carolina
2002, 2008, 2014
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from South Carolina
Served alongside: Ernest Hollings, Jim DeMint, Tim Scott
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority