Graham: 'I'm running' to be 'best commander-in-chief'

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Lindsey Graham Says There's A 91% Chance He'll Run For President

ATLANTA (AP) — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham all but confirmed Monday that he will run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, saying he believes he'd be the best commander in chief amid continued Middle East unrest.

"I'm running because I think the world is falling apart," Graham said in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

A foreign policy hawk and a critic of President Barack Obama's troop reductions in the Middle East, Graham said he believes "more American soldiers will die in Iraq and eventually in Syria to protect our homeland."

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Graham: 'I'm running' to be 'best commander-in-chief'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this March 12, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican senators eyeing the presidency split over the renewal of the Patriot Act surveillance law, with civil libertarians at odds with traditional defense hawks who back tough spying powers in the fight against terrorism. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during the 2015 Alfred K. Whitehead Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum March 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. Prospective 2016 presidential candidates from both political parties participated in the presidential forum during the conference which hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens during a news conference on the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Four powerful Republican senators are pushing for new restrictions on President Barack Obama's ability to transfer terror suspects out of the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Vice President Joe Biden shares a laugh with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. before Biden administered the Senate oath during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to volunteers at the Aiken County Republican Party office on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, in Aiken, S.C. Graham is spending his last weeks of the 2014 campaign trying to get his voters o vote instead of trying to get new voters to his side. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
FILE - This July 24, 2014, file photo shows Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as he listens to other Senators speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. Islamic militants' growing influence in Iraq and Syria are a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in crushing them. (AP Photo, File)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, listens, during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, and his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, shake hands after discussing the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right. listens as his Democratic challenger state Sen. Brad Hutto, left, answers a question as the two discuss the issues for the first time at a forum sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. The two disagreed sharply on the issues at times, but kept it polite. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right, speaks about national security as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, listens during a news conference in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
South Carolina Adjutant General Robert Livingston, left, listens as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, talks about a bill passed by Congress to improve health care for veterans on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham said the most important part of the bill is the ability to fire poorly performing employees. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, talks with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014, following a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, speaks during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014. At left is Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left. (AP Photo)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to supporters after winning the Republican primary, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Graham defeated six tea party challengers and avoided a runoff. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after attending a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials. Senate Republicans have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s decision to swap five members of the Taliban for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a campaign stop at American Legion Post 20 on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Greenwood, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List "Campaign for Life Gala and Summit", a gathering of anti-abortion advocates, in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to students at Winthrop University about foreign policy on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Rock Hill, S.C. It was one of a number of events for the senator as he kicked off his 2014 re-election campaign in earnest. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, left, speaks as John McCain listens during a press conference at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Republican Sen. McCain said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "serious, serious concerns" about parts of the proposal Secretary of State John Kerry is using to broker peace with the Palestinians. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
United States Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., answers a question during a news conference in Goose Creek, S.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. The senator said while South Carolinians and the rest of the nation are weary of war, the situation in Syria demands an American response because events there are linked to the developments in the rest of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
In this Sept. 3, 2013 photo, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter following a speech to business leaders in Goose Creek, S.C. Graham is facing three challengers in the 2014 Republican primary for his seat. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
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He pointed to the Iraqi city of Ramadi, which recently fell to Islamic State militants, as proof that the U.S. must assert itself in the region.

The third-term senator told CBS he will make his official campaign announcement June 1 in his hometown of Central, South Carolina. He would be the only Republican candidate from one of the four early voting states that also include Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

In his early travels to Iowa, New Hampshire and around his home state, Graham has said he believes national security is the most important issue of the 2016 election and that it matters more than anything else to Republican primary voters.

He said Monday that the destabilization of Iraq, continued strife in Syria, Iranian influence in the region and the proliferation of the Islamic State militant group combine to pose a grave threat to Americans.

Graham argued that as many as 10,000 more ground troops could be needed to help train Iraqi security forces to serve as a functional national army.

He sidestepped questions about whether the U.S. was right to invade Iraq in 2003, a question that has flummoxed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during the last week of campaigning.

"If I'd known then what I know now, would I have launched a ground invasion? Probably not," he said, referring to false claims that Iraq possessed a weapons arsenal that could threaten American soil.

"But that's yesterday's thinking," Graham continued. "What do we do today, tomorrow and the day after?"

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Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .

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