- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2015

Likely Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham predicted Thursday that the GOP will lose the 2016 presidential election unless they win over Hispanic voters by supporting a “long, hard path to citizenship.”

“If I were president of the United States, I would veto any bill that did not have a pathway to citizenship,” the South Carolina Republican told USA Today. “You would have a long, hard path to citizenship … but I want to create that path because I don’t like the idea of millions of people living in America for the rest of their lives being the hired help. That’s not who we are.”

Mr. Graham argued that his party risks losing the presidency with its current hard line on immigration.

“We’ll lose,” he told USA Today. “I mean, we’ve got a big hole we’ve dug with Hispanics. We’ve gone from 44 percent of the Hispanic vote (in the 2004 presidential election) to 27 percent (in 2012). You’ll never convince me … it’s not because of the immigration debate.”

Mr. Graham also lashed out at Republicans who believe securing the border is the first priority.

“That’s not practical,” he said. “No Democratic Congress is going to give the Republican Party everything we want on border security until you tell them what happens to the 11 million.”

Mr. Graham said he was “98.6 percent sure” he would seek the presidency next year and is expected to deliver a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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