Former Sen. Bob Graham for president?
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, smiled at the question put forth during a news conference that the and former Florida Democratic lawmaker attended Tuesday to unveil a Paul bill to force the release of 28 redacted pages of a joint 2002 congressional investigation into the causes of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"We need some competition," Paul, R-Ky., quipped.
A flattered Graham, D-Fla., said "I certainly understand your sense there’s been a paucity of candidates thus far" but added "I’m enjoying retirement." Graham launched a short-lived quest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2003.
Graham, who served in the Senate from 1987 to 2005, attended the news conference to lend support to the bill sponsored by Paul and Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to declassify the 28 pages, a move that Paul believes would help ease the pain of some 9/11 families and shine a light on the potential role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks.
"Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia," Paul said. "While their nationality alone does not constitute any wrong-doing by the Saudi government, information that has been revealed over the years does raise questions about their support and whether their support might have been provided to these al Qaida terrorist."
The bill would compel President Barack Obama to declassify the redacted pages no later than 60 days after its passage. While making the pages public, the bill measure would allow the administration to withhold names, identifying information of individuals, or specific methodologies used in the report.
Paul said he was inspired to get involved in the 9/11 report issue by the work of Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who’s been pressing for declassification of the pages for years.