He’s an Air Force veteran and current reservist, a former lawyer who raised his sister and the first of his family to attend college. The South Carolina Republican has three terms in the U.S. House under his belt and is now in his third term in the U.S. Senate. Lindsey Graham has never sent an e-mail and has never lost an election for public office. Here’s where he stands on 10 key issues.
Campaign finance: Reform campaign finance laws. Allow Congress to limit spending.
A supporter of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in 2002, Graham told New Hampshire TV station WMUR that as president he would push for a Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to limit spending by super PACs and others.
Climate change and energy: Climate change is real, man-made, and an economic and environmental problem.
Graham sees climate change as a real event and believes it is at least partially man-made. In 2010, he worked with then-Senator John Kerry and energy companies to try and craft a market system that set some limits on carbon emissions. Following the BP oil spill, those talks fell apart, but Graham still supports the general idea. Graham has called for a debate among Republicans on how to combat climate change without harming the economy.
Education: End Common Core. Take the federal government out of education policy.
The senior senator from South Carolina opposes the Common Core set of education standards and co-sponsored a Senate resolution suggesting that the Obama administration used federal funds to coerce and force states into using the standards. According to his Senate campaign site, Graham believes state and local governments alone should set education policy.
Guns: Allow access to assault weapons and larger magazine clips. Limit access for the mentally ill.
Graham is an advocate for gun access and has opposed several gun control proposals in the Senate, including a ban on assault weapons, a limit on how many rounds can go in a magazine and an expansion of background checks. In 2013 — in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings — he sponsored a bill that would have limited the ability of people with a history of mental illness to purchase guns.
Immigration: Secure the border, then allow a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Block the president’s executive actions.
Graham advocates a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements, including learning English and paying taxes. His support of comprehensive reform dates back to his work on a 2007 effort that did not make it through the Senate and the 2013 bill which did. The South Carolina senator insists that border security be improved and verified before any new legal status be conferred. Until the border is secure, he opposes the DREAM Act, which would give legal status to those brought to the U.S. as children. He has stridently spoken against President Obama’s executive actions waiving deportation from some undocumented immigrants.
Obamacare: Repeal it or defund it.
Graham has authored and co-sponsored numerous bills to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act, arguing the healthcare law hurts the economy. He personally enrolled in South Carolina’s insurance exchange under Obamacare. That decision allowed the senator to forgo a federal subsidy he would have received if he had signed on to a healthcare plan for members of Congress that is available in the Washington D.C. market.
Social issues: The Supreme Court decision on gay marriage stands. Republicans should not push for a Constitutional amendment. Ban most abortions at 20 weeks.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Graham said if Republicans keep pushing for a Constitutional amendment to overrule the Supreme Court’s June decision and gay marriage, it will hurt the party. The South Carolina senator has said he accepts the court’s ruling. He told the Boston Herald Radio in May that he personally believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Graham defines himself as “pro-life” on abortion and sponsored a Senate bill to ban abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. He would make exceptions for cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
Taxes: Move toward a flat tax. Increase revenue, potentially including taxes, to help balance the budget.
A deficit hawk, Graham believes the national debt has ballooned to the degree that spending cuts alone cannot address it and Republicans must put revenue increases on the table.
On tax reform, he has advocated for a flat income tax rate which would be the same across incomes, allowing deductions for home ownership, charitable giving or taxpayers living on on fixed incomes.
Iran and Israel: Block the current nuclear framework with Iran. Defend Israel’s actions in the West Bank.
A member of the Senate Armed Services, Graham has strongly opposed the framework nuclear deal currently under negotiation between the Obama administration and the government in Tehran. The senator wants full, anytime access for international inspectors to Iranian facilities and insists that Iran pledge that it will not attempt to destroy Israel. Graham has defended Israel’s actions in the West Bank and accused the Obama administration of adding to tension with the Jewish state.
Islamic State and Iraq: Send 10,000 U.S. troops to fight Islamic State. Increase air strikes. Work with Iran to stabilize Iraq.
Known as a strong proponent of the use of American military force, Graham proposes sending 10,000 U.S. troops to fight Islamic State. He believes the U.S. ultimately will have no choice but to send more combat troops to the region. He has long advocated the use of airstrikes, applauding the White House for attacks it approved in September. Graham said in 2014 that the U.S. should work with Iran to coordinate the fight against Islamic State and to keep Iraq stable.