Sen. Graham reacts to not being invited to rally against Iran deal

Republican senator and presidential candidate sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 9, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reason that I invited Donald Trump is that, when Donald shows up, he brings with him armies of television cameras. The mainstream media will show up in force to film what occurs. And I think there's no more important issue facing this country right now.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, whatever is the case, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz almost seem like brothers these days. They were comrade in arms to protest this Iran deal, to little avail.  You heard some of the chicanery behind the scenes and some of the political theater that all but assured the president will get that deal through, even though healthy majorities in both the House and Senate will still be against it.

We have got Lindsey Graham, the presidential candidate, South Carolina senator, joining us right now.

Senator, what do you make of this and what was an odd pairing at least of seeing Ted Cruz and the Donald on the same page on opposing this thing?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm glad that they're talking about why this is a bad deal, because it is a terrible deal.

If a guy threatens to cut your throat, don't buy him a knife. You're giving Iran $100 billion to buy more weapons, a pathway to a bomb, a missile to deliver it, without any requirement it change their behavior.  So I'm glad they're speaking up. I hope all of us will.

At the end of the day, I have got one goal, Neil. I want every member of Congress to vote on this deal. I want to put it on the president's desk. If we don't do that, we're doing the Congress a disservice, the people a disservice, and the next president a disservice. I want to make Barack Obama veto Congress' disapproval.

CAVUTO: Well, there's indications that might not even happen, the way these labyrinth are forming here.


CAVUTO: But there was a lot of rage focused on Republican leadership, specifically John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Do you think that was fair, that they botched it?


CAVUTO: That they made a pact that was stupid?

What do you think?

GRAHAM: Here's what I will tell you.

Obama is on the phone right now trying to get Democratic senators to not let this deal go to a final vote. At the same time, you got some -- you have got Ted Cruz and House Republicans trying to help Obama. Obama's nightmare is a debate and a vote. He doesn't want a debate on the floor of the Senate, an up-or-down vote on a motion to disapprove, because 58 senators, bipartisan, 58 senators will reject this deal.

He doesn't want that. And, apparently, our House colleagues are trying to help him, even though they don't want to help him. This will be the biggest mistake in foreign policy for the Republican Party in a very long time if we don't require every member of Congress to vote on this deal.

CAVUTO: All right, in other words, you want everyone on record yea or nay, how did you vote for this.

GRAHAM: Say yea or nay.

CAVUTO: I guess under the assumption that, given the unpopularity of this -- one in five Americans actually like it.


GRAHAM: Right.

CAVUTO: That it would hurt them.

But what if it doesn't? What if it never gets to that point? Do you think that is a failure of leadership that they mishandled this?


CAVUTO: And that the very fact that it took two-thirds of a vote to get this shut down, and there was no way in heck that was going to be easy to do, that the president snookered them?

GRAHAM: No. I think what we're doing is about to shoot ourselves in the foot.

There's a pathway to get a vote. We will pick up two more senators.  We have 58 senators against the deal. All we need is two more to have a final vote. Under the setup in the Senate, the motion to disapprove...

CAVUTO: But I thought the president had 42 who -- I know we're talking a little apples and oranges, but he might be able to avoid that altogether.


GRAHAM: Only if Republicans help him.

Here's what I think will happen. Two Democratic senators are going to say, yes, we should vote, I will vote to support the deal, but it is too important not to have a debate and a vote; 98-1, we voted on this process.

So, Harry Reid is trying to change the rules in the middle of the game, and apparently some Republicans are trying to help Harry Reid and Barack Obama. The worst thing the Republican Party could do is avoid a vote on Barack Obama's deal with Iran.

Let's have a vote. We will get a bipartisan majority against the deal. He will veto it. It will marginalize the deal. And the next president will have a better opportunity to get us a better deal if Obama has to veto congressional disapproval, in my view.

CAVUTO: You don't like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, do you?


GRAHAM: It's not -- I like -- actually, I like Ted. And I don't dislike Mr. Trump, actually.

CAVUTO: Come on. Come on.

GRAHAM: No, really.

CAVUTO: He annoys you. He seems to annoy you.

GRAHAM: No, I think he has just got poor judgment when it comes to policy. I think...

CAVUTO: What about Donald Trump?

GRAHAM: I just think his foreign policy makes no sense to me, but I don't dislike Donald Trump.

I mean, look, he's tapped into frustration. He's really riding a wave. But when he suggests that the best way to destroy ISIL is to go to Syria and Iraq and take their oil to pay for our wounded warriors, not only will that destroy ISIL. It will destroy our presence in the Mideast for generations.

You know, we're in a war here.


GRAHAM: And you have got people fighting this war. They have been fighting it for a decade. You got one commander in chief in Barack Obama that doesn't know what he's doing.

I hope we will be serious about picking a commander in chief who understands how to destroy ISIL, understands the Mideast. And for God's sakes, to the Republican Party, let's have a vote on Barack Obama's deal with Iran. Let's all vote no. And we will have Democrats joins us.

CAVUTO: But, you know, Senator, what I find weird? You're a decorated veteran. You served your country honorably. So did Governor Rick Perry. And you guys are like in nowhere land in the polls.


CAVUTO: Does that bug you, that in these times of life and death and real military, sensitive issues, you're like the invisible men? No disrespect intended.


GRAHAM: No, no, no. You have been very fair to me.

I have got nobody to blame but me. If I don't do well, it will be my fault. It won't be Mr. Trump's fault. But here is why I think I will do well beginning in New Hampshire.  I think I am the best prepared to be commander in chief, that I will have a plan to destroy ISIL that will require American boots on the ground in Iraq and eventually Syria, and that I could get a better deal with Iran, because everybody in the Mideast knows me.

And, most importantly, I think I know them. So, the bottom line is we're a long way to go. I think I'm going to do well in New Hampshire, being best qualified to be commander in chief and a problem-solver. But if I don't make that case, there's nobody to blame but me. But, honest to God, I believe, above all else, that I would be a very good commander in chief for the 1 percent who have been protecting us all, 33 years in the Air Force, 144 days on the ground as a reservist in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I understand the threats we face. And I am willing to deal with them.

CAVUTO: All right. Senator, it's always a pleasure having you, sir.  And I appreciate it.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Lindsey Graham.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

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