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."
Graham: 'I'm running' to be 'best commander-in-chief'
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference in Riga, Latvia, December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference about his resistance to the so-called "Skinny Repeal" of the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - MARCH 21: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questions Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch on the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Hart Building, March 21, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (R) introduces Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (L) at a town hall meeting with employees at FN America gun manufacturers in Columbia, South Carolina February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) departs a military briefing for U.S. senators on the recent U.S. attack in Syria April 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory strike yesterday in response to the use of chemical weapons by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) depart after the failure of the "skinny repeal" health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) rides on the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Senator John McCain (L) listens as Senator Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference in Riga, Latvia December 28, 2016. Picture taken December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), left, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), right, meet with Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, on Capitol Hill in Washington March 21, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
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)
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) meets with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (L), who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) head for the Senate Floor for a vote at the U.S. Capitol July 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. GOP efforts to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were dealt setbacks when a mix of conservative and moderate Republican senators joined Democrats to oppose procedural measures on the bill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., hold a news conference to discuss the bipartisan 'The Dream Act of 2017' in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (L) shakes hands with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (R) at the conclusion of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing about Russian intereference in the 2016 election in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Before being fired by U.S. President Donald Trump, Yates had warned the White House about contacts between former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russia that might make him vulnerable to blackmail. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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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?"