CENTRAL, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has opened his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Here's a snapshot of where he stands on issues likely to be debated in the Republican presidential primaries.
Graham was one of the few Republican sponsors of a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system, which passed the Senate in 2012 and died in the House. His position led some South Carolina county GOP committees to censure Graham. He defends his vote and the need to address the status of millions of people in the country illegally, while increasing border security. He says Republicans risk losing more generations of Latino voters to Democrats if they continue to stand in the way of an immigration overhaul.
Graham argues the U.S. must engage early, often and widely in the world, criticizing American troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan and calling for more aggressive intervention in Syria's civil war. He'd place 10,000 more U.S. troops in Iraq. Graham says a nuclear deal with the Iranians should "forbid them ever having the pathway to develop a nuclear weapon." He opposes President Barack Obama's moves to normalize relations with Cuba, but supports a charter extension for the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. products such as jetliners.
Graham also defends the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency that are at the heart of the debate in Congress over anti-terrorism surveillance and civil liberties.
BUDGET AND ENTITLEMENTS
Graham has supported a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and supports giving the president the power to veto specific items from spending bills. He has voted for numerous tax cuts and opposed tax increases. He has voted both for and against various measures to raise the nation's borrowing limits, and has a mixed record on spending bills pitched as economic stimulus, supporting some smaller packages but opposing larger ones. He voted against Obama's health care law and supported a proposal to curtail Social Security and Medicare spending and benefits over time. He's also backed various proposals to allow individual, private Social Security accounts.
He backed proposals for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and for a ban on gay adoptions. He argued that if the Constitution is interpreted to grant a constitutional right to gay marriage, it could also be interpreted as granting marriage rights to polygamists. Yet Graham has also called for gay couples to be able to live "free and open" lives. Graham gets high marks from anti-abortion groups. But he's also tried to bridge the gap between conservatives who support absolute bans on abortion and those who support exceptions for rape, incest and health of the mother. Graham argues absolute bans aren't politically feasible.
Graham has said he believes human activity helps drive the rise in greenhouse gases that most climate scientists believe are causing a rise in global temperatures and sea levels. In recent years, he worked with Democrats privately on legislation to address the emission of such gases, but shied away from the matter as his 2014 re-election approached. Ultimately, he sided with his party on a vote to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
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This story has been corrected to show the dateline is in Central, South Carolina, instead of Virginia.