U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham took advantage of a relatively small field at the Republican “undercard” CNBC debate Wednesday to secure several quotable moments, including when he said on foreign policy that “this crap stops” if he’s elected.
That led many pundits to declare Graham won the smaller of Wednesday’s two GOP debates, although it’s not clear if the South Carolina Republican would benefit given the earlier debate’s relatively low profile and the reluctance of the GOP base to support Graham to this point.
The senator tried to portray himself as a pragmatist who is willing to get things done by reaching across the aisle when needed. He expressed frustration at the infighting over ideology in the Republican caucus, saying it was hurting the party in national elections.
“At the end of the day, folks, I am trying to solve a problem and win an election. I am tired of losing,” he said as CNBC moderators tried to cut him off for going over his allotted time. “Good God, look who we’re running against. The number one candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The number two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.”
While the CNBC debate was focused more on economic policy, Graham still was able to get in a few shots on foreign policy, particularly his usual argument for an increased U.S. presence in Syria.
On one particular question about Chinese cyberattacks, Graham responded, “To the Chinese: When it comes to dealing with me, you’ve got a clenched fist or an open hand. You pick. The party’s over. To all the dictators: Make me commander-in-chief and this crap stops.”
Graham has never polled more than the margin of error outside his home state. A CBS News/New York Times survey released this week gives him 2 percent support nationally.