How Lindsey Graham Stood Out at the "Happy Hour" Debate

“That’s the first thing I’m going to do as president: We’re gonna drink more.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham at the second presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. (Justin Sullivan AFP/Getty)

For all his hard-charging anti-Islamic State rhetoric of late, Lindsey Graham is a legitimately funny person—compared, at least, with the rest of the 2016 crowd. Earlier this summer, he made a well-received video with IJReview in which he destroyed a cell phone in numerous, comically violent ways (in response to Donald Trump broadcasting Graham’s phone number during a speech). And he’s been known to make jokes on the campaign trail.

In addition to digging into his policy chops and his Senate experience, Graham was able to differentiate himself in Wednesday’s early, lower-tier debate with a long series of one-liners. The humor might've worked to intrigue voters: According to Google data, he was the most-searched GOP candidate by far during the debate. We kept track of some of the lighter moments he brought to the stage. Spoiler: He plans on bringing some serious drinking back to the Oval Office.

In poking fun at his own thick south-of-the-Mason-Dixon accent in his opening statement: “I'm Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, in case you can't tell.”

In arguing that he’s been “trying to solve” the problem of illegal immigration for years: “We’re not going to deport 11 million people here illegally, but we’ll start with felons and off they go. As to the rest, you can stay but you’ve got to learn our language. I don’t speak it very well, but look how far I’ve come.”

On the need for immigration reform: "Let's create a rational, legal-immigration system, because we have a declining workforce. Strom Thurmond had four kids after he was 67. If you're not willing to do that, we better come up with a new legal immigration system."

Responding to criticism that he’s praised Hillary Clinton in the past: “Ronald Reagan did a couple of really big things we should all remember. He sat down with Tip O’Neil, the most liberal guy in the entire House. They started drinking together. That’s the first thing I’m going to do as president: We’re gonna drink more. And what did these two great Irishmen do? They found a way to save Social Security … So yes, I will say nice things at times about Democrats. Yes, I will work them—work with them. I will put the country ahead of party.”

Knocking Donald Trump’s national security speech last night in California: “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan 35 times in the last decade trying to understand how we got in this mess. Our leading candidate gets his foreign policy from watching television. And what I heard last night is the Cartoon Network, ‘oooh, I’m big, I’m strong, we’re gonna hit them in the head.’ That’s not foreign policy. That’s a cartoon character.”