Steve Hoadley turned down a seat at Sen. Lindsey Graham’s forum Saturday because he didn’t expect to stay long.

Hoadley stayed the whole hour, standing the whole time.

“I was really impressed,” Hoadley said Sunday. An Air Force veteran who lives on Sand Hill Road, Hoadley was interested in Graham’s plans to stabilize Syria and Iraq, curb Russia’s involvement in both Syria and Ukraine and lower the national debt. “Head to head, Graham is 10 times more knowledgeable than Trump is. Sometimes, good people finish last.”

Of the 15 Republican presidential candidates, Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina and an Air Force veteran himself, is polling near the bottom in New Hampshire, according to the latest Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll released Oct. 19. Real estate mogul Donald Trump is in the lead with 28 percent of the vote, while neurosurgeon Ben Carson is just behind him.

On Graham’s three-day tour of New Hampshire, he hoped to lure Granite Staters away from Trump, Carson and Carly Fiorina, who also never held political office. The basement of the library was Graham’s last stop, in addition to his second visit to the region in the last two months.

“Without you, I wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell [of winning],” Graham told the two-dozen audience members Saturday. Graham hopes his first presidential bid takes a turn for the better like the campaign of his fellow senator and friend did in 2008. “John McCain was fifth in a four-person race. I was there with him when he crashed. If it wasn’t for New Hampshire, he wouldn’t have come back.”

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Graham said he would deploy soldiers to Syria to aid rebels efforts’ to remove President Bashar Al-Assad. Graham would also increase the American presence in Iraq in addition to Syria to stop the spread of the Islamic State group. He also touched on his plans to save Social Security, lower the national debt, replace the Affordable Care Act and promote community colleges and technical schools.

“The main thing is to get a job,” Graham told the Ledger-Transcript afterward, about the benefit of any type of higher education. He also praised the New Hampshire Legislature for lowering business taxes in the most recent biennium budget.

Rich Lindsay of Peterborough liked Graham’s straightforwardness. Lindsay said that Graham impressed him because he avoids “glittering generalities” that are emotionally appealing, but lack answers.


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