Sen. Lindsey Graham announces his bid for presidency. (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt) (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Lindsey Graham

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced his bid for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded Republican field.

Graham opened his campaign with a grim accounting of radical Islam “running wild” in a world imperiled also by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The South Carolina senator dedicated himself to defeating U.S. adversaries. Graham is entering a crowded Republican field and trying to distinguish himself from a multitude of opponents.

“I’ve got one simple message,” he told supporters in the small town where he grew up. “I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. That includes you, Hillary.”

US Israel

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, listens as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during their appearance at the 2015 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington. (AP/Cliff Owen)

In that fashion, he took on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as non-interventionists in his own party and rivals with little to no foreign policy experience.

Having won his third term last November, Graham is a prominent Senate voice in seeking a more muscular foreign policy and one who casts the threats facing the United States in particularly dark terms.

“Simply put, radical Islam is running wild,” he said. “They have more safe havens, more money, more weapons and more capability to strike our homeland than any time since 9/11. They are large, they are rich, and they’re entrenched.”

He said as president, he’d “make them small, poor and on the run.”

“I’m afraid some Americans have grown tired of fighting them,” he said. “I have bad news to share with you — the radical Islamists are not tired of fighting you.”

Despite his focus on Islamic State militants with footholds in Iraq and Syria, Graham said Iran poses the gravest threats.

If the U.S. does not head off a nuclear capability in Iran, Graham said, “Iran will trigger a nuclear arms race in the least stable region on Earth, and make it more likely that people who aspire to genocide will have the most effective means to commit it.”

Graham is an outspoken member of the conservative class that swept into Congress in 1994. But he’s joined with Democrats on some contentious votes.

He backed a 2012 immigration overhaul and voted to end a 2013 partial government shutdown, for example.

A Strong Supporter of Israel

Graham has been a vocal supporter of Israel and a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s policies on the Jewish state. Amid his presidential candidacy announcement, Graham tweeted, “To our friends in Israel, I will never abandon you. I will always stand firm in supporting the one and only Jewish state.” He added, “Our ally Israel is at risk as a result of Obama’s failed leadership. We share values, we share democracy, & our friendship is unbreakable.”

Netanyahu Graham

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Senator Lindsey Graham, in Jerusalem on May 27, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

During a visit to Israel last week, Graham vowed a “violent backlash” against any nation looking to push for a Palestinian statehood resolution in the United Nations Security Council.

“If there’s an effort by any nation to have the [U.N.] Security Council define the terms of the peace process, there will be a violent backlash from the United States Congress in a bipartisan fashion,” Graham said.

Graham’s remarks alluded to a recently announced proposal by France that vowed to recognize a Palestinian state if there is no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians through an upcoming French-backed U.N. Security Council resolution.

The other announced Republican presidential candidates include U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former New York governor George Pataki, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are running for president on the Democratic side.

By: and AP