Graham optimistic despite low polling

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Presidential candidate continues push through NH in Hampton

By Max Sullivan

Hampton Union, November 13, 2015

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

South Carolina Senator and GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham walks alongside Foss Manufacturing Chief Operating Officer Bill Cummings
South Carolina Senator and GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham walks alongside Foss Manufacturing Chief Operating Officer
Bill Cummings during a tour of the facility on Wednesday. [Ioanna Raptis photo]

HAMPTON — Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said this week that, despite poor numbers in the polls, he’s confident he still has a chance to break ground in the New Hampshire Primary.

Graham, who toured Foss Manufacturing Company in Hampton Wednesday, said an endorsement this month from U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and relentless campaigning could help him make a comeback by winning the Granite State primary. His staff said he would officially file for candidacy with the New Hampshire secretary of state in Concord Thursday morning.

“(McCain) won here twice. I think that will help me,” said Graham, who has zero percent support in the national polls this week, as well as in most of the New Hampshire polls. He had 1 percent in the New Hampshire CBS poll from last month. He was not invited to either of Tuesday night’s Republican debates.

Graham admitted the non-politician celebrity status of the Republican front-runners is making it hard to get attention from voters. Real Estate mogul Donald Trump and neurosurgeon Ben Carson still led the polls nationally and in New Hampshire.

“I’m disappointed with the Republican National Committee. They set up a process that’s more about celebrity and name ID than it is about content of your ideas and character,” Graham said. “It hurts New Hampshire because we now have to worry (more) about national polling than being on the ground.”

But while Graham said he needs to do well enough nationally to get back into the debates, he’s confident that he can campaign enough in New Hampshire to win over voters here. Graham has visited New Hampshire 51 times this election season, beating Carly Fiorina’s 37 visits and John Kasich’s 31, according to WMUR Channel 9.

“I’m going at it the old fashioned way. I’m going to do it the New Hampshire way,” Graham said. “New Hampshire is the antidote to big money. It gives guys like me and John McCain and Jimmy Carter and other candidates a chance.”

After Graham’s tour of the Foss facility, Graham sat down with a small group of Foss’ department heads for a question and answer session. Foss makes polyester fiber in needle punch woven textiles used in cars, floor carpets, indoor carpet, liners for RVs, boats and other products. The Hampton facility has about 400 of the approximately 600 workers employed by Foss Manufacturing, said Foss COO Bill Cummings. Foss was visited earlier this year by Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

In the question and answer session, Graham touched on the topic of raising the minimum wage, saying that a leap to $15 per hour would create unnecessary new costs and inhibit businesses like Foss in their effort to create jobs.

“It’s hard to hire new people if the cost of hiring goes up much more,” Graham said. “A $15 an hour minimum wage will throw you in a ditch…. It creates an operational cost at a time when you probably need every penny you can get to invest in modernizing your plant.”

Graham also talked extensively about foreign policy in the Middle East and how to deal with both ISIS and Russia. While Russia and ISIS are at odds with each other, Graham said the U.S. can’t work with Russia to eliminate ISIS at the expense of its other interests in the region. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, an ally of Russia, needs to be removed as much as ISIS does, Graham said. The senator said Russia’s ties to Iran also make it a nation of which to be weary.

“The last thing you want to do is to form an alliance with Russia and Iran if the price is to keep Assad in power,” Graham said. “Assad is a puppet of Iran and a proxy of Russia.”

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