- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sen. Lindsey Graham said none of the other Republican presidential contenders has a “robust plan” to defeat militant groups in the Middle East, setting himself up as the sole candidate with enough foreign policy experience to lead the United States.

The South Carolina Republican said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would commit to “more American boots on the ground in Iraq,” offering between 3,500 and 10,000 more troops and setting up a regional army to deal with the Islamic State.

Mr. Graham acknowledged that fellow GOP candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but noted that the first-term senator has the same experience Sen. Barack Obama had when he was elected president.

“The last thing we need is somebody who is not ready to be commander-in-chief on Day One,” said Mr. Graham, who went on to tout his own experience by saying “33 years in the Air Force, 35 trips on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know what works and what’s not working.”

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina offered a different plan to combat the Islamic State, which also is known as ISIS and ISIL.

“We really are sitting by when we could be leading a coalition of Arab allies to defeat ISIS. I disagree that we’re at that point where we need to put tens of thousands of boots on the ground,” Mrs. Fiorina, the only female Republican candidate, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Meanwhile, Ben Carson, a former pediatric neurosurgeon, was not able to offer a concrete answer on what he would do in the Middle East if he were to occupy the Oval Office.

“I don’t pretend to be able to know the number [of troops] without a lot of information,” Mr. Carson said on “This Week.” “And that’s one of the reasons that we have generals and people who are really able to figure out what needs to be done.”

And Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman leading the Republican polls, offered a proposition involving ground troops to take away influence from Middle Eastern countries. He said Americans need to go in and take control of the oil, thereby destabilizing militant groups by tapping into their revenue streams.

“We’re going to have so much money. And what I would do with the money that we make, which would be tremendous, I would take care of the soldiers that were killed, the families of the soldiers that were killed, the soldiers, the wounded warriors. I love them. And they’re walking all over the streets of New York, all over the streets of every city without arms, without legs, and worse than that. And I would take care of them,” Mr. Trump said on “Meet the Press.”

Mrs. Fiorina, Mr. Carson and Mr. Trump have no political experience — a point they say makes them anti-establishment and appealing to the electorate.

In a crowded primary field, even candidates with political experience have tried branding themselves as Washington outsiders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has relied on his gubernatorial record to propel himself through the race.

But Mr. Graham said Sunday that Mr. Bush’s lack of foreign policy experience has led to lackluster policy proposals.

“Jeb Bush is a fine man, but his plan to destroy ISIL doesn’t have a ground component and is really not a whole lot different than that of President Obama,” he said.

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