Lindsey Graham is really, really happy to be here (in Utah)

June 13, 2015

Graham preparing for the last of his TV interviews at Mitt Romney’s E2 Summit in Deer Valley, Utah. REUTERS/Emily Flitter

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may never be called a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination but he is trying hard to make a mark, and at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s retreat for wealthy donors, that means spending as much time with the press as it does with America’s richest people.

Graham has done sit-downs with print reporters, live-spots for TV, and a gaggle for the same group of people with whom he sat down and stood up. And he welcomed the press at his address to Romney’s E2 Summit here in Deer Valley, Utah.

The basics: He wants to reach out to more Latinos through different immigration policies, impose gradual limits on carbon emissions in the United States, avoid a debt-ceiling fight this year in Congress and roll back financial regulation. And he’s really, really happy Romney invited him here. By now, he’s had to say that to almost every journalist in attendance at least twice.

When he sat down with Reuters, Graham admitted he hasn’t had to turn away any million-dollar checks since he arrived (campaign finance laws bar candidates from taking more than $2,700 from any one individual). But he added he hopes a super PAC  —  an outside group that could spend unlimited amounts of money supporting him but with which he’d be barred from coordinating — emerges soon to support his presidential candidacy. Unlike some of his competitors, Graham, as a federal officeholder, couldn’t start one himself, even before he officially declared his bid.

He ran into Romney in person shortly after arriving on Friday night at the exclusive lodge where the conference is being held. They shook hands at the top of a staircase overlooking a cocktail party that was already in full swing.

“There’s money down there Lindsey, go get it!” Romney said with a big smile. Graham smiled back, then started down the staircase.

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