A day after being snubbed from the fourth GOP presidential debate, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized the growing role national polls play in determining which candidates have a legitimate shot at the Oval Office.
“It turns the process over to pollsters rather than voters,” the South Carolina Republican said in the Wednesday evening mist in Franklin.
Graham, who was relegated to the undercard in previous debates, failed to qualify for either Fox Business Network stage because of his low numbers, as did former New York governor George Pataki.
“The difference between fourth place and last place is in the margin of error,” Graham said. “Polling is being used in an absurd way, and I just think it was a mistake from the get-go.”
Retail politicking in New Hampshire has been a central part of his campaign, which he modeled after that of his close friend and two-time Granite State primary champ John McCain. That’s what he continued to do on Veterans Day, when he marched and held vigil with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1698.
Graham, who retired from a 33-year career in the Air Force in June, said New Hampshire is “the antidote to big money politics” and “the place a candidate can be judged based on their ideas, not their profile and their TV advertising.”
Accordingly, he fist-bumped a troop of Boy Scouts and pitched his message, which is distinct in its readiness to send American ground troops to Syria, to comprise 10 percent of a force there along with regional allies.
That army would “go into Syria, with Arabs and Turkey leading the way, destroy ISIL before we get hit, hold the territory, push Assad out and let Syria repair itself,” he said.
Graham said when his fellow senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, went back and forth on the main stage discussing the military, he wished he could have been there.
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“Rand Paul has been wrong about every foreign policy decision, virtually,” Graham said, adding, “I thought Marco,” who advocated for a bolstered military, “did a good job.”
He lamented that one of the qualifying polls for the debate didn’t include his name, but he said he didn’t expect that to become a trend.
“I think it’s an apparition. I don’t think CNN is going to use a poll that didn’t have my name. If you had knocked that poll out, I would have made it easily. It’s just absurd is what it was, but I’m soldiering on,” he said.
Back at the VFW post, after the vigil at a nearby memorial, Graham stood over a table with a half-dozen Boy Scouts and explained that Veterans Day was a time to honor the men and women who served their country.
He offered the boys a hopeful but dire message.
“We’re in good hands. Those who are serving today are going to be in the same stead as the Greatest Generation of World War II,” he said. “The war is going to go on for a while. The enemy is vicious and brutal, and we will win because we’re kind and good.”
Graham saluted the veterans and cheered on the scouts. Signing off, he added: “Sorry the government is so screwed up. Have a good Veterans Day.”
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