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Lindsey Graham: Everyone Is Welcome In My GOP... Unless Your Name is Paul

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published
In an interview on CNN's

State of the Union, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said anyone can find a place in the GOP, whether they are a staunch conservative or an environmental activist. As long as a person believes there is "too much debt" and "too many terrorists," there is a place for them in his party.

Graham said he would welcome Caitlyn Jenner if she wanted to be his political ally.

"I'm a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy, but I'm running to be president of the United States. If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a Republican, she is welcome in my party," Graham said.

In the interview, Graham said he wants to challenge his party on the issue of climate change because he believes it is real and the GOP currently has no environmental policy. However, his biggest focus is on the nation's need to combat ISIS and "radical Islam."

"Here's what I would say to the talk show hosts: In the eyes of radical Islam, they hate you as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner," Graham said. "They hate us all because we won't agree to their view of religion. So America, we are all in this together."

It would be hard to find an American who does not believe there are "too many terrorists" or "too much debt." Conduct a nationwide survey and pollsters will probably have a difficult time finding someone who would disagree with either or both statements. How to address terrorism and debt and where each issue stacks on the nation's priority list, however, is where people are going to disagree

Graham says that if someone doesn't believe that sending troops to the Middle East again is the best way to deal with radical islam then he is not the candidate for them -- he does not want their vote. Despite Graham's message of inclusion, he does not want the support of anyone who does not believe perpetual war to stop radical Islam in the Middle East is the answer.

Yet, there is one surname in American politics that is well-known for challenging this foreign policy approach and the hawks in both major parties: Paul.

For much of his political career, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) was mocked and ridiculed by members of his own party for his more non-interventionist views. During the 2008 and 2012 presidential debates, he was subjected to questions as to whether he actually was running in the wrong party based on his position on the USA PATRIOT Act, the War in Iraq, and the U.S.'s prolonged military presence in the Middle East.

Watch the video:

The narrative was spun that Paul was saying we invited the terror attacks of September 11. However, Paul merely challenged his fellow Republicans and the audience watching to acknowledge that there are consequences for our actions. No matter what foreign policy we adopt, there is going to be a response -- sometimes good, sometimes bad -- but there will always be a response. For every action, there is a reaction.

This is a conversation we are not having -- whether on Capitol Hill or in the media. Lawmakers never want to have a substantive discussion about long-term consequences for any policy they adopt, which is why we never hear a real debate or discussion on any issue on Capitol Hill -- especially foreign policy. There are only regurgitated talking points and watered-down rhetoric.

Now, it's U.S. Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) turn to take the heat from members of his own party for siding with the libertarian wing of the party on national security and foreign policy.

Rand Paul is not entirely opposed to war with ISIS. He has said in previous statements and 

interviews that it should be an option on the table.

However, Paul has been mostly consistent in his view that we cannot have perpetual war to justify a permanent war on terror. Like his father, he also suggests that we need to have a more substantive discussion on the consequences of our actions, specifically targeting the hawks in his party.

"ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” Paul said in May. “They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved – they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”

Paul has chilled out on the rhetoric a little bit, but still says that the rise in ISIS can be linked to the policies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and members of his own party.

"This was the policy of President Obama, it was the policy of Hillary Clinton and it was also the policy of some in my party who wanted to arm the Islamic rebels," he said. "And I warned at the time that the great irony is that you arm these people, one day we'll have to go back and fight against these weapons ourselves."

Paul and Graham have especially been at odds over the past few weeks concerning NSA surveillance, the PATRIOT Act, and the future of military involvement in Iraq and the Middle East. Graham even said that Paul's positions on the Middle East are to the left of President Obama.

The first Republican presidential debate will take place in August. If both men qualify to be on the stage, it is possible we could see another Rudy Guiliani / Ron Paul type of exchange. If not between Graham and Paul then perhaps from another GOP contender and Paul because Rand has rocked the boat and is taking heat from all sides for it. The GOP may not like listening to another Paul on the debate stage.

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