by Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe
Lobelog.com

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke bluntly about his plans for raising campaign funds for his prospective presidential campaign in an interview published today on “Washington Wire,” a Wall Street Journal blog. Over a glass of Riesling, according to the account, he answered a series of questions, including how he plans to finance his campaign.

He described “the means” as the biggest hurdle facing his potential campaign, adding:

If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing… I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding. [Chuckles.] Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding.

Indeed, pro-Israel heavyweights, such as Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, and other heavyweight donors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, are emerging as the go-to funders of the Republican Party. Graham’s observation—whether meant lightly or not (or uttered under the influence of the Riesling)— tends to confirm that access to their millions is critical to the fortunes of any Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

Graham’s Desires

Graham hasn’t made any secret of his desire to curry favor from the RJC’s pro-Netanyahu, pro-Likud board of directors. But suggesting that “pro-Israel funding” may determine his choice of cabinet secretaries (as well as his policies) may make even his potential benefactors squirm just a little bit in light of the purposes to which real anti-Semites who believe “Jewish money” controls the U.S. government might put such a statement.

Back in December, during a trip to Jerusalem, Graham assured Netanyahu that “the Congress will follow your lead” in pushing the Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions bill. This was an unusual statement for a U.S. senator to make to a foreign leader in that leader’s capital, given the fact that the sitting president of the United States was ardently opposed to the bill and three weeks later vowed to veto it in his State of the Union address.

Graham is clearly hoping that Adelson and other RJC billionaires will come through for him, although his needs appear relatively modest. After referring to the “pro-Israel funding,” he riffed:

Can I raise enough hard money to get through Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina with a staff about 75?…South Carolina is unique because I’m from there. So here’s the deal. If I can raise $15 million — that’s enough and that can make me competitive…If I can perform well in Iowa to get some momentum coming into New Hampshire, hit hard here, finish in the top tier, I’ll win South Carolina and I’m in the final four.

“If I raise the money, I’ll run,” Graham told Fox News Sunday.

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