WASHINGTON — A Senate Armed Services Committee member — and defense-sector ally — exploring a White House bid is making clear his race would include a major focus on national security.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has established a political committee called "Security Through Strength" to help him, in his words, "test the waters" for a presidential bid.
"The committee will fund the infrastructure and operations allowing Graham to travel the country, listen to Americans, and gauge support for a potential presidential candidacy," states a message on its official website.
"Whether it works for me, I don't know," Graham said on CNN Friday of jumping into the already crowded GOP field. "I'm going to take a look at it."
In describing his political committee, the SASC veteran said "the theme is that for America to be secure, we need to be strong and have a strong military, and get our act together when it comes to dealing with radical Islam and Iran on the march."
The committee also will focus on "economic security, retirement security, being able to pass on the American dream, that's what I want to talk about," Graham said.
Asked why he wants to be president, he took a swipe at President Barack Obama.
"I think I have the ability to be a good commander In chief," Graham said, "and God knows we need one right now."
Graham appeared on the cable network to discuss 2012 nominee Mitt Romney's Friday announcement that he will not seek the nomination in 2016. But the interview quickly turned to Graham's dalliance with running.
There is one person perhaps more bullish about a Graham candidacy than Graham: his "Three Amigos" running mate, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.
McCain recently told a group of reporters they should "keep an eye on Graham" in the race for their party's 2016 nomination. "Especially in the debates," McCain said of his younger protegee with a smile, "he'll kill 'em."
Graham said for McCain, the party's 2008 nominee, to believe he could be commander in chief "is one of the highlights of my life."
The Security Through Strength website touts Graham's three decades of military experience and his foreign policy credentials.
In one spot, it quotes an unnamed "leading conservative" heaping this praise on the could-be 2016 contender: "[Lindsey] Graham has been right about more things on foreign policy for longer than just about anyone … if anyone has bragging rights on foreign policy, it is Graham."
But some analysts believe Graham is too hawkish, too linked to America's protracted and unpopular post-9/11 military operations, and not enough of a national figure.
The popular "Daily Show" program lampooned his announcement about exploring a run.