South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has taken one step closer to launching a 2016 presidential bid with the hiring of a new communications director and senior political adviser, Politico reported
Security through Strength PAC, the organization that would form the backbone of a potential campaign operation, will employ Brittany Bramell, a former spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner.
Jon Seaton, a longtime staffer who served as Tim Pawlenty's national political director during the last presidential cycle, will be senior political adviser.
The PAC pays for Graham's political travel and other expenses related to "testing the waters" for a presidential run.
The announcement comes just one week after Graham's team hired an adviser in Iowa
, Tracie Gibler. It is expected that a decision about whether or not to run will come sometime between now and May, Politico reported.
Though Graham would be a long-shot candidate, he has the advantage of coming from an early primary state and also has stature in the party with his hawkish views on foreign policy which may appeal to the conservative base.
At the same time, he supported the bipartisan immigration reform bill that is unpopular among conservative voters, Politico noted.
Christian Ferry, senior adviser to Security through Strength, who would become the campaign manager should Graham decide to run said that if he enters the race, "he'll run to win, not to make a point."
"He's been traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire recently, talking to voters, talking to activists about keeping them safe and secure, evaluating how important that is in voters' calculations," Ferry told Politico.
Graham was well-received at the Iowa Agriculture Summit earlier in the month and also recently visited New Hampshire. He will visit New Hampshire again on Tuesday for the Wild Irish breakfast, an annual bipartisan gathering for the state's business community on St. Patrick's Day. He will return next month for a leadership summit sponsored by the state Republican Party.
Graham has however said he will not be attending the Iowa Straw Poll in August.
"I'm not going to go, you know, pay people to vote for me," he told Radio Iowa last week, according to Politico. "We'll let the people of Iowa do it for free. To me, the Straw Poll is more of political sideshow."
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