04/02/2013 10:08 am ET

Lindsey Graham: Obama Criticism Is 'Good Politics'

While denying suggestions that his persistent criticism of President Barack Obama over the Benghazi attacks is politically motivated, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the New York Times that criticizing the president is "good politics" for Republicans.

In a story published on the newspaper's website Monday evening, Graham rejected the claim that his focus on the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya is intended to shore up support from his conservative base.

"It would be a disservice to write our concerns about Libya off as a partisan deal motivated by politics, given the national security implications of what's happened in Libya and Syria," Graham said.

However, he admitted that attacking the president is not without its political benefits in his largely conservative home state.

"Anytime you challenge the president, Obama, it's good politics," Graham said.

Graham told the Times that he had also been tough on former President George W. Bush's foreign policy decisions.

The Republican senator has been one of the most outspoken detractors of the Obama administration's response to Benghazi, continuing to demand answers on the attack that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Graham and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have specifically focused on the role played by the CIA and the FBI during the attack.

"I think John and I are hell-bent on making sure the American people understand this debacle called Benghazi," Graham said last month on CBS' "Face the Nation." "The FBI and the CIA never talked for weeks. We're going back to the pre-9/11 model."

Graham, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, is up for reelection in 2014. While there have been some hints of a potential Tea Party challenge to Graham, most expect the Republican to win a third term.


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