By Jonathan Topaz
Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging action on climate change and endorsing a budget plan that includes tax increases — another example of how the South Carolina Republican breaks with many other conservatives seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Graham also called out two of his Republican rivals by name and challenged his party for not having an environmental policy.
“Here’s a question you need to ask everybody running as a Republican: What is the environmental policy of the Republican policy? When I ask that question, I get a blank stare,” he said in the interview taped Saturday in Boone, Iowa, where a number of GOP presidential hopefuls attended Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride.”
“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” the South Carolina senator said. “I do believe that climate change is real.”
”When 90 percent of the doctors tell you you’ve got a problem, do you listen to the one?” Graham added, in a nod to the vast majority of scientists who say climate change is real and caused by human activity.
The senator also urged Congress to pass the Simpson-Bowles budget plan — a deficit-reduction package proposed a couple years ago by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson that includes several tax increases.
Graham, who announced his presidential bid last Monday in his hometown of Central, South Carolina, is a long shot for the GOP nomination in part because he’s alienated some conservatives with his stances on several domestic issues, including support for comprehensive immigration reform. The vast majority of Republican hopefuls have ruled out tax increases and haven’t pushed for legislative action on climate change.
The senator also criticized two fellow GOP presidential contenders — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whom Graham said wasn’t serious about entitlement reform, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently said in New Hampshire that he doesn’t support open-ended military conflicts.
“Most people over there are not buying what these guys are selling,” Graham said.
One of the most outspoken national security hawks in Congress, Graham reiterated in his CNN interview his call for U.S. ground combat troops in the Middle East to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“If you think we can protect America without some troops having to go back overseas and fight for a very long time — most likely, then I’m not your guy,” he said.