Sen. Graham Wakes Up and Withdraws from the Race for President

There’s big news on the 2004 Election front: Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.) has withdrawn his flailing anti-Iraqi Freedom, anti-Bush candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. Surely everyone noticed that the field of ten has now been whittled down to nine liberals who will blame President Bush for every ill of American society.

Sen. Graham made his announcement on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Monday night. Most likely, the average American didn’t know it happened – because the average American didn’t know or care that he was running. The senior senator from Florida – the man known in D.C. for keeping excruciatingly detailed diaries about his political life – made national news only with his outlandish statements.

    QUESTION: Mr. Graham . . . in your heart, do you believe that the president intentionally misled the American people [about going to war in Iraq]?

    GRAHAM: Yes. (Democratic debate, September 9, 2003)

Graham’s campaign was based greatly upon his opposition to the war in Iraq and his opinion of and increasingly disparaging comments about President Bush’s conduct surrounding the war. Sen. Graham made it quite clear that he opposed the war with Iraq and Bush’s “deceit” that got the United States there. In fact, he went so far as to suggest the possibility of impeachment. At the NAACP convention in July, Graham asked:

    If the standard of impeachment that the Republicans set for Bill Clinton – a personal, consensual relationship was the basis for impeachment, would not a president who knowingly deceived the American people about something as important as whether to go to war meet the standard of impeachment?

However, it seems the senator’s disapproval of government officials who supported the war extends only to the Bush Administration. For example, Sen. Graham had this exchange with Larry King during his announcement:

    KING: Are you going to endorse any of the nine?

    GRAHAM: Not at this time. Larry, we have an excellent field of Democratic candidates. All of them would be superior to the current incumbent in the White House, and I am anxious to give my full support to whichever candidate the people of the United States, the Democrats of the United States, select to be our nominee.

    KING: Will it have to be a candidate, who, like you, opposed the war?

    GRAHAM: No, I think…

    KING: … for you to endorse them?

    GRAHAM: I think it can be a candidate who took whatever position they wanted on the war. I believe that the war was a mistake, and I voted against it. I thought it was a distraction from the war on terror, and that we have seen a resurgence of international terrorists as a result of that distraction. But good people of good will could have reached a different conclusion on that. I do not think that is a determinative vote in terms of who the Democrats should nominate as their next president. (emphasis added)

What happened to his convictions? Did he actually have any to begin with?

To compound the hypocrisy, Sen. Graham has posted a statement on his official campaign website (now his official non-campaign website) which includes:

    Homeland security for all Americans is only achievable if [o]ur nation stays focused on the war on terror until it is won. We must reject distractions from that victory. The quagmire in Iraq is a distraction that the Bush administration, and the Bush administration alone, has created. (emphasis added)

Note to Sen. Graham: President Bush neither introduced nor voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq – Congress, with a Democrat-led Senate, did. And it passed with many of your Democratic colleagues, including a majority of Senate Democrats, voting “aye.”

Hypocrisy and outlandish statements are only parts of a larger reason Sen. Graham’s candidacy came to an end. Sen. Graham, like many politicians, is not gifted with a great deal of self-awareness, so he cannot bring himself to admit that he was simply not electable in this race.

When King asked him why he was leaving the race Graham claimed:

    I’m leaving because I have made the judgment that I cannot be elected president of the United States. Primarily because of a late start, the result of completing my duties as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the investigation of the events around 9/11, heart surgery, and then the delay caused by the war in Iraq. All of those things combined to make it difficult for us to have the time and to close the gap in organization and fund-raising, which have led to this difficult decision.

What the senator needs to realize is that it was not he who made the judgement that he could not get elected, it was the voters. His campaign’s failure is not due simply to a late start that resulted from an investigation of September 11, heart surgery, or the war in Iraq (a pathetic attempt to blame the President). Rather, the reason for failure was the fact that he was never a viable candidate from the beginning.

If a late start is the source of his problems, then how would he explain away the surging candidacy of Gen. Wesley Clark? Obviously, Clark has received the support of many in the Democratic Party establishment, but that occurred largely because they see Clark as someone who could possibly give Bush a run for his money.

The thinning of the Democratic herd for the party’s nomination has begun with Graham. It will continue as more of the remaining nine wake up and realize they do not stand a chance in this race.