by Paul Bowers
In case you had any doubts about what sort of presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham would be, his campaign announcement speech today was a veritable cornucopia of doomsaying and saber rattling.
Speaking in his hometown of Central, the U.S. senator from South Carolina made an early reference to Ronald Reagan's Cold War-era "peace through strength" policies and gave dire warnings about "the enemies that are trying to kill us" and "the culture of death that seeks to destroy the dignity of life."
"The world is exploding in terror and violence," he said.
This is all par for the course with Graham, who earlier in his career sounded the alarm about nonexistent WMD stockpiles in Iraq, warned that a lack of U.S. ground forces in Syria would trigger nuclear war between Iran and Israel in 2013, and even once made a cryptic reference to an enemy nuclear warhead entering the Charleston harbor in the belly of a ship.
Certain words and catchphrases come out of Graham's mouth almost like a verbal tic in media appearances: "Benghazi" is one, and another, which appeared no fewer than six times in his 20-minute announcement speech today, is "radical Islam."
Here are the quotes:
• "I guarantee we will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam because its followers intend to destroy our way of life. However, America can be and will be secure only if we have strength. Security through strength will protect us."
• "It is sad for me to report to you, but Barack Obama has made us less safe. Simply put, radical Islam is running wild. They have more safe havens, more money, more capability, and more weapons to strike our homeland than any time since 9/11. They are large, they are rich, they are entrenched. As president, I will make them small, poor, and on the run."
• "I'm afraid some Americans have grown tired of fighting them. I have some bad news to share with you: The radical Islamists are not tired of fighting you."
• "The biggest threat of all is the nuclear ambitions of the radical Islamists who control Iran."
• "I have learned from my travels that a small schoolhouse in a remote region educating a young girl can do more damage to radical Islam than any weapon we possess."
• "However, radical Islam is not the only threat we face. Elsewhere, old adversaries are seizing opportunities to challenge our interests."
If you find it hard to believe that a presidential candidate in 2015 would mention religious terrorism six times in an introductory policy speech without making so much as a passing reference to, say, economic recovery or immigration reform, then you haven't been paying attention to Graham over the years. Speaking on the Hugh Hewitt radio show in January, Graham said, "When I hear the president of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we're in a religious war, it really bothers me. And I want to be somebody who can talk about the world as it really is."
Click here to watch Graham's announcement speech on C-SPAN (he starts talking around the 32:00 mark).