Lindsey Graham: "If you're single, there's nothing wrong with you"

Presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, says that as America’s commander-in-chief, he intends to protect all people -- “single people included”
Presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graha... 00:41

As Sen. Lindsey Graham competes for the Republican nomination, he will staunchly defend his positions on troops in Iraq or immigration. He'll also staunchly defend his right to be a bachelor in the White House.

"I am single, like many other people. If you've got a good marriage, God bless you. If you're single, there's nothing wrong with you," Graham, the 59-year-old unmarried senator from South Carolina said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation." "The last time I checked, there was nothing in the Constitution or at the White House that said, 'Single people need not apply.' I'm going to be a ready-to-go commander-in-chief, protect everybody, single people included."

Graham would be just the third bachelor to enter the White House if he is elected president (former President James Buchanan was the first, followed by Grover Cleveland who didn't marry until after he was residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). He made headlines earlier this week when he joked that he could have a "rotating first lady" position filled by his sister, Darline, or friends.

Asked by host John Dickerson whether he's gotten any offers for the job, Graham said, "Yeah, we have."

Beyond his marital status, Graham is unique within the GOP for his unwavering belief that immigrants in the U.S. illegally should be given the chance to apply for U.S. citizenship if they learn English, pass a criminal background check and fill other criteria.

"Mitt Romney and Ann Romney did our party a great service by admitting that embracing self-deportation in 2012 was their biggest mistake," Graham said, referring to a 2012 presidential debate in which Romney described his plan to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as "self-deportation."

"You're not going to self-deport 11 million people. You're not going to be able to do that. I'm not going to be a Republican nominee willing to try to do that," Graham said. "I hope every candidate on the Republican side will follow Mitt Romney's lead and admit it was a mistake to embrace self-deportation. And I hope self-deportation is in our rearview mirror as a party, because if it is not, we will lose in 2016."

To Republicans who argue that the U.S. must limit legal immigration, Graham said, "To me, they're just looking at a different world than I am. We'll be down to two workers for every retiree in the next 20 years. We're going to need more legal immigration. I hope we'll embrace a comprehensive approach that's realistic and humane."

Presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graha... 03:18

He's a little more confident of his fellow Republicans on the issue of foreign policy, saying that any of the GOP candidates except for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul would be better on the issue than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"She said that you would have to suspend disbelief to believe that the surge would work when it was being proposed by General Petraeus. You would have to suspend disbelief to believe that America is well-positioned against Iran, against Syria, against ISIL, against Russia, against China. We're in terrible position," he said. "You'd have to suspend disbelief to believe her statement we're well-positioned. No, she would be beat by all of us, except Rand Paul."

He also said it was "delusional" for Clinton to say that the U.S. is well-positioned to deal with threats from around the globe and suggested she would be like a third term of "a failed presidency" from President Obama.

Graham believes U.S. should send about 10,000 military personnel to serve as trainers and support for the Iraqi security forces to recapture territory held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL).

Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Li... 04:20

He is highly critical of President Obama's foreign policy, and even suggested that some of the president's military advisers are giving him bad advice.

"I'm dying to hear from my military leadership on how we degrade and destroy ISIL with the current strategy. Now would be a good time to call [Defense Secretary] Ash Carter and our military leaders to the Capitol Hill and say, 'If you've got a problem with what we're doing, let me know, but tell me how this is working.' Because if our military leadership thinks that we're on path to degrading and destroying ISIL, they need to be fired," Graham said.

Though Carter has said that Iraqi troops lack the will to defeat ISIS, Graham is a big believer in the power of surging American troops to a region to help win the fight.

"If you add a couple of aviation battalions of American attack helicopters, you'd have a distinct advantage over ISIL in Iraq. But you have to look at Syria and Iraq as one battle space. We're not doing that. We have no strategy to deal with Iraqi safe havens in Syria," he said. "You cannot win this war from the air. Obama will go before Assad will go, so this whole policy toward degrading and destroying ISIL is a miserable failure."

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers Congress for CBS News.