NATIONAL_SECURITY_STRATEGY_51423127_999x666.jpg

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. | AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Sen. Lindsey Graham exploring 2016 presidential run

SHARE Sen. Lindsey Graham exploring 2016 presidential run
SHARE Sen. Lindsey Graham exploring 2016 presidential run

WASHINGTON — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday said he has set up a committee to explore running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, portraying himself as a proven winner and a conservative willing to work with Democrats.

Graham told reporters that the website, called “Security Through Strength,” would give him a way to raise money. He plans to visit New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two states to vote in the nomination fight, and see if his pragmatic message resonates.

“I mean, are we going to be a party that embraces the fact that Democrats exist and you can get no big deal done without their buy-in?” said Graham, 59.

On such issues as national security and President Barack Obama’s health care law, Graham said, “If we don’t like what Obama’s offering the country, what would we offer the nation?”

Such pragmatism sounds too compromising to some conservatives who say they would stick firmly to positions favored by the party’s activist base. Graham, they point out, voted for Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court, is likely to vote for Loretta Lynch for attorney general and helped write a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill.

More than a dozen Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, say they are considering running in 2016.

Graham bristled when asked how the party’s conservative base could trust him given that voting record. He pointed out three times that he won the GOP nomination for Senate by 41 percentage points.

“I represent a form of conservatism that’s acceptable in the reddest of red states,” Graham said. “I am conservative by any rational definition.”

Graham has been a close ally of Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who lost to Obama.

Graham cruised to re-election in November, easily defeating six GOP primary rivals who cited his history of negotiating with Democrats as proof that he wasn’t conservative enough.

LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

The Latest
Since Morel made his MLB debut last week, he’s played four different defensive positions: third base, second, shortstop and center field.
Travis Cook, 53, faces a count of first-degree murder in the stabbing of a 43-year-old man on Monday at the Clinton Street station, Chicago police said.
At first, the group was mainly concerned with marksmanship. It later played a relatively constructive role regarding safety-minded gun ownership restrictionsm before turning into a rigid politicized force.
Cubs manager David Ross also provided more information on Caleb Kilian’s timeline for a big-league call-up.
To Cubs fans, the network has had negative connotations since its inception, created as an additional revenue stream. After it removed critical commentary from “The Reporters” on Sunday, Marquee now has a credibility problem.