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Graham Delivers Hawkish Message In Manchester

Allegra Boverman for NHPR
Lindsey Graham in NH in April, 2015

Campaigning in Manchester, Republican Lindsey Graham said if he were president, he’d deploy 20,000 troops to the Middle East. Graham said national security dictates that the fight ISIS in Iraq and join those trying to topple Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad.

The crowd at the Americans for Reace, Prosperity Security forum in Manchester was primed for a hawkish message on foreign policy and  terrorism. Lindsey Graham didn’t let them down.

"I am going to destroy the Caliphate. We are going to pull it up by its roots."

That was Graham on ISIS. The South Carolina Senator said strategic military involvement abroad -- with troops on the ground --  is the only way the US can protect itself.

“There is a fight for the heart and soul of Islam and I am taking sides. I’m taking sides with anybody who will live in peace with me and not blow me up, which is most people.”

Graham said his first priority would be to set up what he called a regional army in Syria. A step he says would come under certain conditions.

"And here’s the deal: We will help you but stop funding terrorists is the price of admission, stop double dealing, stop supporting a terrorist group one day and fighting them the next. And, oh by the way, let women drive."

Graham said  he would pay for more military spending by passing something like the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan and reforming the military pension system. Graham also stressed the need for the US to take a firmer approach to Russia and China.

He also warned that without fresh step to increase protection to the nations computer safety systems the US is in danger of suffering a “Cyber Pearl Harbor.” But despite all these challenges abroad, Graham assured the crowd the US is still doing OK.

"We’ve still got the best hand of anybody on the planet. We are playing it pretty poorly. I like our chances. We are better off than most people."

Not exactly "Morning in America," but to voters like Dick Buchsenschutz, of Bedford, that’s fine.

"You get none of the political correctness and so forth that clouds so much of what we hear and do and think and so forth. We need just the bare fact realists, and I think he’s it."  

Early polling shows that view isn’t widespread. A survey taken last moth put him at 1 percent support.

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