Lindsey Graham on 2012

Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s senior senator, is not a conservative kingmaker like his Palmetto State colleague, Sen. Jim DeMint. But the maverick lawmaker is a Beltway player on national security, a vocal member of the Armed Services committee. As the GOP presidential primary heats up, with candidates dropping by Charleston and Columbia, he hopes to use his perch to prod the field.

In a recent interview with National Review Online in his Capitol Hill office, Graham was frank in evaluating the race so far. Turning first to the frontrunners, he says Gov. Rick Perry is a strong Republican presidential contender, but needs to “prove that he is electable.” Many Republicans, he notes, have lingering questions about Perry’s statements on Social Security, vaccination policies, and foreign policy.

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