Graham to Suspend Presidential Campaign

Lindsey Graham

Image courtesy of CNN

Graham to Suspend Presidential Campaign

| published December 21, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff


Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Senator and an outspoken critic of GOP front-runner Donald Trump, suspended his Presidential campaign on Monday after months of low poll numbers and faltering fundraising efforts. Graham’s exit leaves 13 major candidates still active in the race—a crowded field by any traditional definition, but considered numerous by Republican standards this close to the Iowa caucuses, which will be held on February 1, 2016.

Graham made the announcement in a video posted on You Tube, and later confirmed the statement with announcements on social media. Graham told his followers that he was proud of what he accomplished in the race—raising the bar on discussions of immigration, and introducing key possible solutions to government debt. Graham was also known for deep, complex thinking on foreign policy and terrorism.

Graham’s campaign remained stuck in single digits since his entry into the Republican race last spring. But he quickly became a fierce competitor in the then-already crowded field, and he may be best known for his combative opposition to businessman and real estate mogul Trump, whose frequent politically-incorrect outbursts rattled the GOP narrative and upended the arrangement of candidates.

Graham was never a front runner, nor was he close to being defined as a top tier candidate by the handicappers who early-on figured his closest rivals—former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as the presumptive leaders in the field. But Graham was widely seen as a potential dark horse whose deep knowledge of military and foreign policy made him a valuable part of the conversation. Graham is a foreign policy hawk, a supporter of Israel and Israeli military policy, and far more interventionist than those among the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.

He was also seen as having the strategic advantage of representing a state with a crucial early primary test—South Carolina, a southern state and the first major contest outside the sometimes rarified environments found in Iowa and New Hampshire. Within the Republican contests of recent years, South Carolina has proven to be an important bellwether for the course of the nomination battle, and often a key determining factor.

Of particular interest to many political analysts and pundits: in a race without Graham, which of the remaining candidates will most likely benefit from those who once supported Graham, and will his departure trigger more feverish campaigning in the Palmetto State by some or all of the remaining 13 candidates. One Republican analyst Thursday Review spoke to on Monday suggested a flurry of intensive, on-the-ground activity in South Carolina by candidates, staff and volunteers representing Bush, Christie and Huckabee. Home state diehard fans of Graham are not seen as likely to migrate toward Trump, Fiorina, or Carson—nor toward Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Graham’s field operations in South Carolina are substantial, and several GOP contenders may vie for control of that talent.

First elected to the House of Representatives in 1995, he later ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring eight-term Senator Strom Thurmond in 2003. Graham has served 13 years in the Senate, and is a member of committees on Armed Services, Appropriations, and Judiciary.

Graham is the fourth major candidate to drop from the Republican race for President. Others who have suspended campaign operations include former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Trump Reaffirms Loyalty Pledge in Debate; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; December 17, 2015.

Republicans: Policy & Fireworks in Las Vegas; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; December 16, 2015.