MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s confident he can win the Republican presidential primaries in New Hampshire and his home state of South Carolina, two of the first voting states in the nomination contest.
“I wouldn’t be running in New Hampshire if I thought I couldn’t win in New Hampshire,” he said. “It will be good for the party to have my voice.”
Sen. John McCain, Graham’s friend and colleague and a two-time New Hampshire primary winner, agrees. He joined Graham on Saturday for a full day of events, including a town hall meeting in Manchester
An underdog in the 1999 Republican primary, McCain upset then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush after hosting more than 100 town hall events across New Hampshire. On Saturday, McCain spoke highly of New Hampshire voters’ ability to choose candidates and urged them to consider Graham.
“No one had given me any chance to succeed,” McCain said. “If you’ve been impressed today, which I hope you have been with this candidate, tell your friends, ‘Go see Lindsey Graham.”’
Graham is seen as a longshot for the Republican presidential nomination and likely won’t be on the stage Thursday when Fox News hosts the first primary debate. Only 10 of the 17 candidates will be allowed on stage, based on average performance in recent national polls. Graham said Saturday that national polling reflects name ID and celebrity, not who is the best choice for president.
That’s a decision best left to New Hampshire voters, he said.
Those voters weren’t willing to let Graham and McCain off the hook on Saturday. During the town hall, the two heard from a voter who doesn’t approve of U.S. aid to Israel, one who said Republicans don’t care about people’s health care, and another who called former NSA contractor Edward Snowden a hero — an idea McCain, Graham and most of the audience staunchly opposed.
Perhaps learning a thing or two from McCain over the years, Graham took the challenges in stride.
“I’m the worst possible choice for you,” he told the voter questioning aid to Israel. “You don’t want to vote for me.”