I had never been over there to see who the opposition was, he said. At that time, I really didnt know.
For much of Obamas first term, Graham described Clinton, Gates and Petraeus as a great national security team, praised U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, backed the military surge in Afghanistan and shared a gleeful midnight call with Vice President Joe Biden Graham is a friend from Bidens Senate days over the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden by a Navy SEAL team.
Graham, though, did a sharp pivot after the Benghazi assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, accusing Obama and his aides of giving false accounts of the attack and covering up details.
Despite his respect for Clinton, Graham said Friday that the State Department under her turned down four requests for beefed-up security at the Benghazi consulate.
There was a bias not to have a large American footprint, he said. It was kind of wanting to be the anti-Bush.
Graham has intensified his criticism of Obama in recent days, linking the Boston Marathon bombings last month with the Benghazi assault and saying U.S. national security has deteriorated on the presidents watch.
The senators jab sparked a dismissive response from Obama just Tuesday.
Mr. Graham is not right on this issue, although Im sure it generated some headlines, Obama told reporters at a White House news conference.
Even while jousting with Obama over national security, Graham has cooperated with him on other fronts.
At Obamas request, Graham organized a March 6 dinner the president hosted at the White House with 12 Republican senators, among them Graham, Obamas 2008 White House election foe Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
And Graham is among the eight senators who last month introduced sweeping legislation to overhaul the nations patchwork immigration system, an initiative that many Republican activists oppose because it would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States even as it stiffens border controls.
When it comes to Obama, Graham has switched gears before.
In 2008, the second-term senator campaigned tirelessly with McCain around the country during the Arizonans unsuccessful run against Obama.
Yet, after having criticized Obama for months from a position as a McCain surrogate or at his side, Graham advised Obama on foreign policy when the former senator from Illinois became president-elect.