New Hampshire Key to Lindsey Graham Presidential Strategy

NELA3003.JPGNew presidential candidate Lindsey Graham may be flirting with invisibility in national opinion polls, but that won’t matter in New Hampshire, he said during his first campaign trip there.

Graham, visiting MaryAnn’s Diner in Derry, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, shared advice he got from Sen. John McCain his good friend and the 2008 GOP nominee about winning the New Hampshire primary.

“Get your butt up here. You know he was like at 1%. New Hampshire in his mind resurrected his political career, he won the state twice, to this day he talks about it glowingly,” Graham said of McCain.

“If you ask John McCain about New Hampshire, here’s what he would tell Lindsey Graham or anyone else: People are going to make up their own mind in New Hampshire,” said Graham. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what the polls say. If you got a message that resonates with people in New Hampshire, they’ll listen. All I can ask of anybody is just to listen to me.”

The South Carolinian is not currently on pace to make the first presidential debate, which will be hosted by Fox News and limited to the top 10 candidates national polls. And not surprisingly, he questioned how relevant those surveys should be.

“Brad Pitt would probably be in the debates. I’m sure he’s a fine fellow but at the end of the day what you’re testing is people who have run before or people who have certain celebrity status,” Graham said.

Graham’s trip to New Hampshire came as the U.S. Senate passed a measure that would reform the National Security Agency’s data collection powers. Graham opposed the measure because he supported full reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which allowed the NSA broad data collection authority. Graham missed Tuesday’s vote due to being on the campaign trail.

But his Senate colleague and now presidential political opponent, Rand Paul, had sought to derail both measures out of civil liberty concerns.

Graham reiterated to CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday on “The Lead” his support for the NSA controversial bulk collection of metadata that has drawn the ire of Paul.

“The metadata program has been undermined in terms of the USA Freedom Act, and quite frankly, we’ve told the enemies so much about it, I’m not sure it works anymore,” Graham said.

Those enemies such as the Islamic militant group, ISIS could launch a homegrown attack here in the United States, he said.

That’s a threat Paul fails to properly consider, Graham charged.

“At the end of the day, the average American sees radical Islam as a threat, much greater than the NSA,” he said.

If Paul managed to win the GOP nomination, Graham pledged to support him, though he argued likely Democratic presidential candidate would “tear him apart.”

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