Family Research Council

10th Annual Values Voter Summit

Remarks by Senator Lindsey Graham


Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC),

Republican Candidate for President

Location: Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Time: 9:52 p.m. EDT

Date: Saturday, September 26, 2015

Transcript By

Superior Transcriptions LLC


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Good morning. (Applause.) Good morning. How are you doing?


SEN. GRAHAM: If we keep (padding ?) the military, we’re going to need that guy. (Laughter.) Don’t go away.

I’m from South Carolina. Anybody been there? (Cheers, applause.) Yeah. Come back, spend money. (Laughter.)

So a little bit about me. My dad owned a liquor store — (laughs) — a restaurant, and a pool room. This is why I would be a good president. (Laughter.) I ran the pool room as a kid, and I know liars when I see ‘em. That’s why I know the ayatollah is lying. (Laughter.) Yeah, he is lying.

A little bit about growing up there. We lived in one room in the back. Neither one of my parents graduated high school. My dad came out of World War II, married my mom, and opened up these businesses. It was my mom, my dad, myself and my sister, who was nine years younger.

The thing about owning your own business — anybody own your own business? You can’t get sick. You got to open up every day. You know, if you don’t open up and go to work, you don’t get paid.

So six days a week — we had Sunday off and we’d go to my grandmother’s house — my mom and dad would get up early and stay late. And it was hard, but it was a good life because I was well-loved. It was one room, literally, that we lived in. We didn’t have running water. We didn’t have a shower. Anybody ever take a bath in a copper tub? Yeah, it works. It works. And boy did I learn it’s not the size of the house, it’s what goes on inside the house. You know, I had something that a lot of people would love to have: unconditional love.

So I learned a lot in that environment. We had one phone, and when people would call the bar and restaurant wanting to know if their loved one was there, I would answer it as a kid. And I remember one time a lady called, said, hey, is Fred there? I said, let me go check. I ran up to the front. Fred said, tell her I’m not here. I went back and I said, Fred said he wasn’t here. (Laughs, laughter.) In about 20 minutes he got drug out by his ear. So I learned a little diplomacy.

But life was pretty good. And we went to Disney World in 1975, the first trip we ever took as a family of consequence. And getting on a plane and going to Florida was like going to the moon for us. It was an incredible experience for us. I never will forget it.

Then we came back and my mom started getting sick — and this is in 1975 — and by June of ‘76 she had passed. Hodgkin’s disease was late diagnosed, and the medical bills pretty much wiped us out because we were underinsured. So everything is fine one day, and months later it’s not so good.

Fifteen months after that, my dad dies, had a stroke in bed. I was at the University of South Carolina, the first in my family to ever go to college, and I got — the aunt came, picked me up and brought me home. My sister found him. And all I can say is that my life turned upside down. If it wasn’t for my family, my friends and my faith, I wouldn’t be standing here today. I’m 22, she was 13.

We moved in with an aunt and uncle who worked in the textile plants that are all now closed. They never made over $25,000 in their life, but they helped me raise my sister. I went back to the University of South Carolina. My sister graduated from College of Charleston. She’s got two kids, one seven and one 22. And her hands are full. (Laughter.) And I’m so proud of her.

But if it weren’t for college loans, she would not have gone to school. And if it wasn’t for a Social Security survivor benefit check coming to my parents — to my sister from my parents’ contribution, we wouldn’t have made it. So, to my Democratic friends, I don’t need a lecture about health care. I know that most people are one car wreck away from needing somebody’s help. Let’s have a health care system that’s sustainable and affordable — more choice, more competition.

To my Democratic friends, I don’t need a lecture about Social Security. I promise you I know why it exists. Does anybody out here own Social Security? (Laughs.) Anybody want to be on Social Security?

So here I am. I’m 60. I’m not married. I don’t have any kids. Thirty-three years in the Air Force, 140 days on the ground as a member of the Reserves in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty-five trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.

What have I learned? I’ve learned that we’re at war with a radical Islamic movement that can’t be compromised with.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, that’s right.

SEN. GRAHAM: They have to be defeated. (Applause.) And I will talk to you about that in a moment.

Did anybody see the vote we have this week on the 20-week pain-capable bill? We got 54 votes, and that almost made no news. It was the first pro-life vote we’ve had in the Senate, really, since 2003.

How many of you worked on the partial-birth abortion ban? All of us. Took 12 years. Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council has done more to highlight this issue than any group. So how about a round of applause for Tony? (Applause.)

What this bill does is very important. We’re one of seven countries that allow abortion on demand at 20 weeks, the fifth month in the pregnancy. Does that make us a better people?


SEN. GRAHAM: I’m trying to get us out of that club. Fifty-four votes, short of what we need but we will eventually get there because we’re not going to quit, are we?


SEN. GRAHAM: And the theory of the case is pretty interesting. At 20 weeks, we’ve had children who have been born who are alive today. Roe v. Wade says the government has a compelling state interest to regulate abortions at the point of medical viability. In 1973 — do you think medicine has advanced since 1973? (Laughter, laughs.) This is a really important debate for the pro-life movement because the theory of the case is not that we’re protecting the unborn because they’re medically viable; we’re protecting the unborn because they feel excruciating pain at 20 weeks.

Medical science tells us that their pain sensors are more developed at that point in time than ours, and they have less defenses to guard against pain. And now medical science tells us that you can’t operate on an unborn child in the fifth month without providing anesthesia. So if you’re a doctor trying to save the baby’s life, because they feel pain you have to give that baby anesthesia. Isn’t it pretty logical to say you shouldn’t abort the baby if they can feel pain? That’s the theory of the case.

Sixty percent of the American people are with us. My goal is to get it up into the 70s and one day have this become law, because I don’t want to live in a country that would allow a baby to have their head crushed, knowing that they can’t be operated on without anesthesia. There’s no anesthesia in the abortion. Think long and hard about who you are and what you want your country to be.

I see that bill becoming law one day. It made it through the House and it made it through the Senate. Do you see Barack Obama signing that bill into law?


SEN. GRAHAM: Do you see Hillary Clinton signing it into law? (Laughter.)


SEN. GRAHAM: Bernie Sanders?


SEN. GRAHAM: Joe Biden?


SEN. GRAHAM: Do you see anybody on the Republican side signing it into law?


SEN. GRAHAM: How many of you see Planned Parenthood one day being defunded? (Cheers, applause.) Do you see that day occurring when Barack Obama’s president?



SEN. GRAHAM: You do? OK.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. Against his wishes, yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Strong in the Senate.

SEN. GRAHAM: This is good. This is — keep talking. (Laughter.) Or have a good discussion among the family.

I see a day when Planned Parenthood is defunded, and it goes like this: the House defunds Planned Parenthood, the Senate defunds Planned Parenthood, and the president of the United States signs a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. Does that make sense? (Applause.)

Do you think Hillary Clinton would sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood?


SEN. GRAHAM: If she didn’t, then what would you have to do? Override her veto, right? And you would need how many votes? Sixty-seven.

How about this? How about a day where the White House (is) in the hands of somebody that shares your values? How about that being 2017? (Applause.)

I see us winning in 2017. I see us winning in 2016. You know why I see us winning? Because they’ve been so lousy.

If you want change in foreign policy, do you think it makes sense to pick Barack Obama’s secretary of State? (Laughter, laughs.) Do you think it makes sense to pick his vice president?


SEN. GRAHAM: Do you think picking Bernie Sanders for any reason makes sense? (Laughs, laughter, applause.) You know what I like about Bernie? His hair. No — (laughter) — what I like about Bernie, he’s true to who he is, right? He’s a socialist. He’s a pacifist. He would cut the military. He would increase taxes and grow the government. But he’s not hiding that from anyone. So, Bernie, thanks for being honest, but it’s just too bad you’re wrong about everything. (Laughter, applause.)

The most important job of the president of the United States is to do what?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Defend the country.

SEN. GRAHAM: Defend the country. How do you get to be commander in chief in America? Elected. You get to pick the commander in chief for the military. Choose wisely. The law professor is not working out too good, is he?

How many of you would fight for your country? (Applause.) How many of you would die for your country? (Applause.) How many of you believe that radical Islam is an enemy of mankind? (Applause.) How many of you believe they would kill everybody in this room if they could? (Applause.) How many of you believe that the Christian community in the Mideast is being slaughtered — (applause) — and our president’s not doing a damn thing about it? (Applause.) Would you go to the Mideast to help your fellow Christians?


SEN. GRAHAM: Would you go back to the Mideast to make sure that women are not gang-raped? (Applause.) Would you stand by Israel without compromise? (Cheers, applause.) Would you send more American soldiers to Iraq if that’s what it took? (Applause.) Would you allow an American force to go in on the ground in Syria with other people to destroy ISIL in Syria, if that’s what it took? (Applause.) Would you spend more — more money on the military, if that’s what it took? (Applause.)

Would you tell the ayatollah that if he tries to break out and get a bomb, he’ll have a war that he can’t win? (Applause.) Would you want your next president to set this deal aside with Iran and get you a better deal? (Applause, cheers.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No deal. No deal!

SEN. GRAHAM: No deal?


AUDIENCE MEMBER: No deal with the devil, yeah.

SEN. GRAHAM: How about this? No deal is better than this deal.

How many of you believe that the ayatollah’s a religious fanatic — (applause) — compelled by Islam to destroy the state of Israel?


SEN. GRAHAM: How many of you believe he’s been trying to build a nuclear weapon, not a power plant? (Applause.) And if you believe he’s been trying to build a power plant, you can’t drive home. (Laughter.)

How many of you believe that we’re at the crossroads in history —


SEN. GRAHAM: — that we’re about to give a radical Islamic regime the capability to kill millions of people?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Then why did you vote for it?

SEN. GRAHAM: All I can say is that I agree with you, and somebody better come up with a plan to fix it all. So you want to hear my plan?


SEN. GRAHAM: Rebuild the military. (Applause.) Stop these insane defense cuts. We’re going to have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915 if we don’t reverse course. If I get to be commander in chief, the first phone call I’m going to make is to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and ask, what do you need that you don’t have? (Applause.)

If I get to be your president, we’re going to have a 500,000-person Army because we need it. We’re going to have a 350-ship Navy because we have to. We’re going to have a more modern Air Force to create an advantage over our enemies. I am not looking for a fair fight. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)

Do you believe Hillary Clinton would do any of those things?


SEN. GRAHAM: Do you agree this is an election we can’t afford to lose?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah. (Applause.)

SEN. GRAHAM: How did Barack Obama beat us twice? He got more votes than we did.

How do you beat Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden?


SEN. GRAHAM: You get more votes than they do.

How many of you believe that Hillary Clinton’s got more bags to carry than any politician could possibly carry? (Laughter, applause.) How many people believe that our nominee needs to take her on?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah. (Applause.)

SEN. GRAHAM: The first thing I would ask Hillary Clinton is, your definition of “flat broke” and mine are a bit different. (Laughter.) If after eight years in the White House where your husband was president you think you were “flat broke,” you’ve sort of lost your way. I know flat broke. Do any of you know flat broke?

Where were you on the night of Benghazi? What did you do to help these people? How did you let it become the death trap that it was? And, oh, by the way, why did you tell the family members when the bodies came back we’re going to get the man who made that video? The closest you’ve ever come to being commander in chief was on that night. You failed. (Applause.)

If they win, my bill never becomes law. If they win, Planned Parenthood continues to go forward. If they win, Obamacare becomes concrete. If one of us wins, everything can change. (Applause.)

Let me tell you why I’m running. I’ve never been more worried about an attack on our nation than I am right now. There are more terrorist organizations with safe havens, money, equipment and men to attack us than any time since 9/11. If I get to be president, we’re going after these bastards. We’re going back over there and we’re going to kill as many of them as we can find. (Applause, cheers.)

And we’re going to help young women over there to have a say about their children. We’re going to educate young people. We’re going to give them something to live for, not die for. And we’re going to help armies and police forces so they can defend themselves. We’re going to stay involved, and we’re not going to cut and run. We’re going to see this thing through.

The reason I want to run is I want to talk with the ayatollah. (Laughter.) And he will listen. If you want a nuclear power program for peaceful purposes, you can have it. But you’re not going to have the ability to make a bomb because I think you’re a religious Nazi and you would destroy Israel and come after us. If a man threatens to cut your throat, don’t buy him a knife. (Laughter, applause.)

I would tell the ayatollah you’re not going to get any sanctions relief while I’m president. You’re not going to be able to buy any more weapons until you change your behavior.

What I hate the most about this deal, it enslaves the Iranian people who tried to rise up a few years ago. Our president has been a weak opponent of evil and a poor champion of freedom. (Applause.)

I have a determination to destroy radical Islam, just as Ronald Reagan had a determination to destroy the Evil Empire. I have learned a lot from my 35 visits to the Mideast, my 33 years in the Air Force. I’ve learned one thing: without a strong America, there will always be a dangerous world.

I think I can beat her because I have a background a little bit different. If we can’t beat hear, it’s all talk. God bless you. (Applause, cheers.)