Sen. Lindsey Graham: Condi Rice Should Run for President

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 01:06 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham got a roar of approval when he told a crowd that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should run for president.

The crowd of 1,000 people at a campaign event on Monday — more than half of them rising to their feet — cheered and clapped when the South Carolina senator suggested that Rice join the 2016 GOP race for the White House, The State reported.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

At the TD Convention Center in Greenville, S.C., Rice quickly turned down the notion, although the reception she received showed that she’s still highly regarded by rank-and-file Republicans.

The outpouring of support follows her withdrawal from a speaking engagement this month at Rutgers University's commencement after students and faculty protested her selection over her role in the Iraq War.

Former "CBS This Morning" co-anchor and Greenville resident Jane Robelot, who was master of ceremonies, said that Rice should know Greenville "is a place she always will be able to come and receive a warm, hospitable, thankful welcome," according to the Post and Courier.

Rice, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration as national security adviser and secretary of state, endorsed Graham at the event just three weeks before he faces off against six GOP challengers in the June 10 primary.

Saying it was important for America to maintain its world leadership role "on behalf of free markets and free people," Rice added, "I can’t think of a more important part of getting that done than making sure that we’ve got the right people in the Senate, and returning Lindsey Graham to the Senate is a part of that story."

Graham said he was thrilled when Rice offered to endorse him for a third term, noting that a poll conducted by his campaign showed Rice was more popular with South Carolina Republicans than anyone else except Bush.

"We’re close friends, and I think I sort of represent the George Bush/Condi Rice wing of the party," said Graham, pointing out how the GOP can win votes at the midterm and presidential elections.

Graham, a member of the so-called "Gang of Eight" who authored a controversial bipartisan immigration bill in the Senate, said that Republicans must reach out to Hispanic voters and admitted that the party’s tough immigration stance had hurt the GOP.

"It's hard to listen to your economic platform if I think you're going to deport my grandmother," said Graham, adding that the GOP has "a branding problem" and needs to tell voters what it supports and not just what it opposes, like Obamacare.

Rice sat next to Graham for 45 minutes answering questions about Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the economy in a discussion moderated by Greenville lawyer and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, according to The Post and Courier.

Rice told the crowd that during one conversation she had with Putin, he had said that Russia was more powerful under strong leaders like Peter the Great and Alexander II.

"I spent a lot of time with Vladimir Putin, and Vladimir Putin is somebody who, not to put too fine a point on it, loves to intimidate," she said. "He will go as far as we will let him go."

Rice also warned that Iran is a danger to the United States and worldwide peace because it wants to build a nuclear weapon and change the balance of power in the Middle East while also oppressing its own people.

Graham joined with Rice in denouncing President Barack Obama's nuclear arms deal with Iran, with the senator saying the fragile agreement "keeps me up at night."

"John Kerry is a nice man, but I wouldn't let him buy me a car," Graham said of the secretary of state. "He's a terrible negotiator."

Rice was recently appointed as one of 13 electors under the new college football playoff selection committee, The Post and Courier added.

"I've done a lot of controversial things in my life," Rice joked. "This might be the most controversial thing I do."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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