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Graham: I haven’t yet made up my mind on run

Last modified: 4/9/2015 1:12:57 AM
Lindsey Graham might not have won over everyone in the room at the Belknap County Republican Committee meeting last night – especially when it came to immigration. But he did manage to impress Woody Fogg, the former state director, one of about two dozen people who filled the dining room of the Top of the Town Restaurant in Belmont to hear the South Carolina senator speak.

“I’ll be watching him,” Fogg said, after nodding along as Graham presented his stance on immigration reform to an otherwise somewhat skeptical room. “He gets it.”

Graham, in response to another guest’s questions, spent a good portion of his visit to the meeting engaging in back-and-forth on immigration policy, national security, foreign policy, entitlement reform and the need to make sure Republicans can present themselves as more inclusive and solution-oriented heading into 2016.

“Here’s what you’re frustrated about,” Graham said, after a few minutes of conversation on immigration. “You don’t trust your government to fix this, do you?”

Broadly, Graham articulated a stance that includes securing the border (“get 90 percent operational control over your border before you let anyone become legal”), increasing legal immigration (“so companies won’t have to cheat”), providing a better system for employers to verify prospective employees’ backgrounds and being “fair” to those who have already been waiting to immigrate to the United States legally.

The senator said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on whether he’ll run for president – he still needs to figure out whether he’ll be able to set up the fundraising and staffing structure needed to do so, he said. But on his way out of the restaurant, Graham might have talked himself into a New Hampshire-oriented launch, should he decide to get into the race.

Alan Glassman, chairman of the Belknap County Republican Committee, invited Graham to the committee’s upcoming Lincoln Day First-in-the-Nation Presidential Sunset Dinner Cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington on Lake Winnipesaukee, scheduled for May 29.

“Let’s put it this way,” Graham conceded, laughing, after a few others attempted to cajole him into committing to the event, “if you see me on that cruise, that means I’m probably in.”

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)


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