Lindsey Graham on Tuition Free College Versus a Strong Military
I got there early and a staffer wearing all black said “Howdy” as she walked to her car bearing New York license plates... I walked into a room of maybe thirty people including the media. There were mostly elderly, veterans, a handful of younger people.
95% of Senator Graham's theme was Iran and ISIL. He tried to rev up the crowd saying “When they say “death to America, do you believe them?” “Yes!” the crowd responded. As I walked in he was basically doing a defense review and lamenting how terribly unprepared our military is. Here are some memorable quotes on the issues:
He helped run his parents bar-pool room-liquor store. “If you can run a pool room, you can deal with the Iranians.”
On the Mideast: He was in Iraq and Afghanistan for a time “as a reservist” he carefully said. “Religious theocracy in Iran is [comparable to] a bunch of Nazis.”
He was very proud to say he was right all along when he and McCain said if we pull out of Iraq too soon “the place will collapse.” He said that’s exactly what happened. “We can’t beat Iraq if we don’t fix Syria.” He wants to send troops to Syria to destroy ISIL. “Syria’s a cancer on the Mideast. The King of Jordan is our best ally outside Israel. We have to arm the Kurds.”
“ISIL would kill everybody in this room if they could. They’re probably already here [in the U.S].”
On handling Putin: “We have to take all of our natural gas that we don’t sell here and send it to Russia.”
On the "browning" of America: An elderly crowd member was worried that the country is turning brown and black and Obama started it and you can see he’s doing it in steps. To Graham's credit, he said “America is not a color. America is an idea. I’m not here to run Obama down.”
On immigration: “Most come to work. Most are decent people and they are trying to create order out of chaos. They have to learn our language as a condition to stay. These Hispanics should be Republicans.” Sounds like somebody sees a big source of votes.
Then came my two-part question:
"The Department of Energy said Lockheed Martin illegally used taxpayer dollars to lobby for contracts worth $2.4 billion/year," I said. "As President what steps will you take to ensure our national security is not held hostage by defense contractor's who appear more interested in financial gain?
"In a related matter, as President, what line items will you add to the federal budget, such as jobs, job re-training, and student loan reform, to assist a middle class that continues to struggle?"
Graham said, "Well, if you break the law, you should go to jail, just like immigrants, heh, heh... I don’t know what you’re talking about, about Lockheed. Campaign finance reform is coming.” Then turning to me he asked: “Do you want free college?” I said “Yes.” He said “Then I’m not your guy.” He said free college basically stifles competition and opportunity. On job creation, he merely said we can’t create jobs because of the EPA.
And now for why bird-dogging is amazing! A young guy followed up on one element in my question (student loan reform), saying he has friends in Canada and they go to college for free, they really like it and seem “very educated and smart." He asked the Senator, "Why can’t we have this?” Graham immediately shot back defensively with, “Yeah, they’ve got like five airplanes.” And then, “If you’ve served in the military, then you can go to college because you’ve earned it.”
Then he quickly said, “Last question” and got a fluff ball question about how he feels about having the primary in New Hampshire. He, of course, gushed about New Hampshire.
I had my picture taken with Graham by a staffer. The second the picture was snapped, Graham quietly said, “Go Navy” and walked away.