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GOP senator defends Manchin against ad

By From staff and wire reports

A Republican U.S. senator crossed the aisle to defend Sen. Joe Manchin from a GOP colleague's attack Tuesday.

In a joint conference call with reporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended Manchin from allegations made in an attack ad campaign coordinated by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul has a political action committee that is targeting Manchin in a one-minute TV ad.

The Reinventing A New Direction PAC blasts the West Virginia Democrat for voting against Paul's proposal to cut off aid to countries like Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

"While millions of jobless men and women seek work, while our debt climbs higher and our roads and bridges crumble here at home, Joe Manchin works with Barack Obama to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag, and kill our diplomats," the ad's narrator said.

"It's time to bring our taxpayer dollars home. It's time to send Joe Manchin home too."

But Graham, who joined 29 other Republicans and 51 Democrats to vote against Paul's amendment in the Senate last month, told reporters Manchin cast the right vote.

"Joe Manchin took the vote seriously," Graham said. "He knew what would be the easy political vote, but when you look at the amendment, I think he knew what was the right vote to take."

Graham said Paul's amendment was the wrong approach.

He said cutting off aid to Egypt would have unintentionally ended a provision in that country's peace treaty with Israel which requires the U.S. give equal amounts of aid to both countries.

Had the U.S. discontinued its $3 billion in aid to Egypt, it would have to also cut off funding to Israel. However, if the U.S. decided to continue giving aid to Israel, Graham said Egypt could argue the U.S. and Israel were violating the peace treaty.

"It would have been the end of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel," Graham said. "I can't think of anything more destabilizing to the region than that."

He also said the amendment would have eliminated aid to moderate Islamic governments like Libya and Pakistan whenever rogue terrorists groups attacked U.S. personnel in that country. Essentially, he said, that gave terrorists the ability to determine what countries in the Middle East received U.S. foreign aid.

"Al-Qaeda would have been very much for this amendment," Graham said. "Radical Islam would love nothing more than for us to withdraw from this region.

"I don't want to turn policy making powers over to terrorists," he said.

Manchin said he respects Paul as a person, but he thought it was wrong to politicize the vote on this issue, especially considering the fact that 81 senators voted against Paul's amendment.

"Foreign relations is not a Democrat or Republican issue - it's an American issue," Manchin said. "We should all look at it as what's best for our country, and not be making political hay out of it."

Graham also noted on the call that he was in North Carolina campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and seeks a GOP-majority Senate. But Graham said Paul's amendment was just the wrong approach.

Manchin staffers arranged the call.


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