Will We Confront the Growing Security Threats? A Conversation with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Will We Confront the Growing Security Threats?

A Conversation with
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Speaker Biographies

Senator Lindsey Graham has earned a reputation as a conservative problem-solver and one of the strongest proponents of a robust national defense. 

A frequent visitor to American troops stationed overseas for on-the-ground assessments, Graham has consistently pushed for outcomes in the War on Terror which protect our long-term national security interests. One leading conservative recently wrote that when it comes to defending America, "[Lindsey] Graham has been right about more things on foreign policy for longer than just about anyone...if anyone has bragging rights on foreign policy, it is Graham." 

Graham is also a leader in cutting spending, reforming entitlements, and getting government out of the way so businesses can create jobs. One national conservative organization called him a Taxpayer Hero who puts "the interests of the taxpayer ahead of politics by consistently voting to cut wasteful spending, reduce the tax burden, and make government more accountable to taxpayers." 

Graham was elected to the United States Senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014. He became - and remains today - the top vote-getter in South Carolina history by garnering over one million votes in the 2008 general election.
Prior to serving in the Senate, Graham was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 as the first Republican from the Third Congressional District of South Carolina since 1877. 

Before being elected to Congress, Graham compiled a distinguished record in the United States Air Force as he logged six-and-a-half years of service on active duty as an Air Force lawyer. From 1984-1988, he was assigned overseas and served at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Germany. Upon leaving active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard where he served until 1995. During the first Gulf War in the early 90's, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region. 

Even today while serving as a United States Senator, Graham continues to serve his country in the United States Air Force Reserves. He is one of only three senators currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. Graham has earned the rank of Colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.

A native South Carolinian, Graham grew up in a blue collar family in the small town of Central where his parents ran a restaurant and pool hall. The first member of his family to go to college, Graham earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. He lives in Seneca and is a member of Corinth Baptist Church.

Ambassador Eric Edelman is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and board member at the Foreign Policy Initiative.  He retired as a Career Minister from the U.S. Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services and congressional relations.
Dr. Edelman has been awarded the Department of Defense, Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards.
He is a visiting scholar at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins University and a senior associate of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

Rachel Hoff is Director of Defense Analysis at the American Action Forum.
She previously served as the Director of Government Relations & External Affairs at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank she helped found in 2009. From 2006 to 2008, Rachel worked as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), focusing on foreign affairs and national security issues. From 2004 to 2006, she was a Research Assistant working with several foreign and defense policy scholars at the American Enterprise Institute.
Rachel received a master’s degree in Global Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tufts University. She has worked and volunteered for numerous Republican Party campaigns and organizations and represented Washington, DC as a delegate at the 2012 Republican National Convention.


Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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