Byron York: Lindsey Graham's bitter, comic turn

Sen. Lindsey Graham stands at 0.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls in the Republican presidential race. He's infinitesimally better -- 0.7 percent -- in the Iowa race, and 0.5 percent in New Hampshire. Even in his native South Carolina, where he might be assumed to have favorite-son status, Graham in languishing with 2.0 percent, in a three-way tie for seventh place.

It's not exactly a position of strength, but in a half-comic, half-bitter performance Thursday before the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Washington, Graham presented himself as the candidate who, virtually alone in the race, knows the secret of winning the presidency.

Graham, one of 14 GOP candidates to appear before the group, spoke second, after Sen. Ted Cruz handled lead-off duties. Cruz had offered the crowd a familiar (and factually unsupported) interpretation of the 2012 presidential election in which Mitt Romney lost because millions of disaffected conservatives, particularly evangelical Christians, did not turn out to vote. The next Republican candidate needs to be a true conservative to lure those voters back to the polls, Cruz argued.

That set Graham off. Deciding on the spot to abandon plans to spend most of his time talking about foreign policy, Graham lectured the audience on the GOP's recent presidential losses, explaining that -- whatever the voters' economic anxieties and policy blunders of the George W. Bush administration -- Republicans have failed in recent cycles because they were on the wrong side of two key issues: immigration and abortion.