SALEM, N.H. — Campaigning with US Senator John McCain, Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham expressed frustration Friday with his party and presented himself as a pragmatic option for GOP primary voters.
“We’re showing a level of irresponsibility that’s going to hurt us,” Graham said, alluding to the failure of House Republicans to find a speaker to succeed John Boehner and their inability so far to reach a long-term budget compromise. “I’m frustrated too.”
The senator from South Carolina, speaking at the American Legion Hall to about 45 people, said as president he would follow the model of give-and-take practiced by President Reagan, a Republican, and former Speaker of the US House Tip O’Neill, a Democrat.
Graham said the pair cooperated to save Social Security. He said he’d be open to the same kind of bipartisanship to strengthen the program today.
“If we keep yelling at each other, we’re all going down the drain together,” he said of the discord in Washington, D.C.
Graham, whose campaign has struggled to draw the support of even 1 percent of Republican voters in polls, repeatedly handed his microphone off to McCain throughout the event. The senator from Arizona handily won the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2008, when he ultimately won the Republican nomination but lost the presidential race.
On this, McCain’s third visit to the state in support of Graham, he urged voters to consider his good friend for the presidency.
“I think what you just heard was a compelling argument this individual can lead this nation in the most perilous times,” McCain said. “Ask your friends to take a look at Lindsey Graham.”
McCain is scheduled to campaign with Graham, who is in New Hampshire on a 9-day swing, through the weekend.
Robert Troy, a mechanic from Raymond, N.H., who attended the event, said he didn’t know much about Graham. He said he believed he could be a good candidate but needed more exposure to mount a credible campaign.
“He needs to get on the news more,” Troy said. “He needs to get out and stir things up a little bit, and that’s what Donald Trump and all those guys, all the other candidates, are doing. And once they do that they’re getting the news media to get their attention and they’re like playing the game.”