Former Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that U.S. troops should stay in Middle Eastern hotspots "as long as it takes to keep us safe."
"If you disengage from the region, you'll have another 9/11," the South Carolina senator, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "On September 10th, 2001, we didn't have one soldier in Afghanistan and not a penny of aid going to the Taliban.
"If you don't stick with it in Iraq, and we don't have a residual force, Iraq will fall apart.
"I want U.S. troops to stay there as long as it takes to keep us safe," Graham said.
The senator, who dropped out of the presidential race in December, said that he agreed with some elements of Donald Trump's national security speech in Philadelphia — particularly those calling for stronger defense forces.
"We've got to rebuild the military and set aside sequestration," he said. "Not only do you need to replace sequestration for the Defense Department, you also need to do it for other agencies that are involved in the fight."
Graham also called on Trump to apologize to President Barack Obama on the birther issue.
"I've had a lot of differences with Barack Obama," he told Blitzer. "But I don't dislike the man. I think he's a good man.
"He's been a good role model. I don't think he was born in Kenya.
"If you really believe this president was born in Kenya, then I'm not so sure I want you to be my president."
Graham said an apology would be critical to Trump beating Hillary Clinton in November.
"He's doing much better," he said. "He's articulating rebuilding the military in fashion that I agree with. He's talking about immigration more realistically, I think.
"What would it take for Donald Trump to win this election?" Graham asked. "For people to believe he's got the judgment, the background and experience and temperament to be president.
"They don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton unless Donald Trump makes them."
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