(CNN) — Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina spoke to the Republican National Convention on Thursday night. Here is the transcript of that speech.
Graham: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, this speech is for the troops.
By every measure, the surge of the troops into Iraq has worked.
It has worked. Sectarian violence and coalition casualties are at record lows. Fifteen of the 18 political benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi government.
The Iraqis have a larger, more capable army. Oil production is dramatically increasing. This week, Anbar province, once an Al Qaeda stronghold, was turned over to the Iraqis.
American combat brigades, who made up the surge, have returned home in victory.
Now, we know the surge has worked. Our men and women in uniform know it has worked. And I promise you, above all others, Al Qaeda knows it has worked.
The only people who deny it are Barack Obama and his buddies at MoveOn.org.
Why won’t they admit it? Because Barack Obama’s campaign is built around us losing in Iraq. Without John McCain’s courageous leadership, there would never have been a surge.
I know. I was there with John McCain and Joe Lieberman every step of the way.
In our visits to Iraq — ladies and gentlemen, in our visits to Iraq, we saw the situation deteriorate. The troops we met, the sergeants, the captains, and the colonels had such respect and admiration for Sen. McCain, they felt comfortable giving him something he knows a lot about: straight talk.
They said, “Sen. McCain, this ain’t working.” John heard their message and put their interests ahead of his own. He came back to Washington and told everyone, including Republicans, “We must change course.”
For his honesty, some accused John of being disloyal, but John McCain’s loyalties, ladies and gentlemen, have always been to his country and to our men and women in uniform, not a political party.
Calling for more troops to be sent to Iraq was one of the most unpopular things John McCain could have done. Some said it was political suicide. But you know what? It was the right thing to do…because losing in Iraq would have been a nightmare for America. Al Qaeda would have claimed victory over our nation. Sectarian violence would spread throughout the region, and Iran would fill the vacuum.
Last summer, we came within two votes — two votes — of a congressionally mandated surrender. One Democrat, one Democrat broke with his party to support the surge. Ladies and gentlemen, thank God for Joe Lieberman.
It was John McCain’s voice and credibility that stopped the Democratic Congress from losing this war.
Gen. Petraeus’ plan will be a model for generations to come, and our troops will be heroes for the ages. Those who predicted failure, voted to cut off funding for our troops, and played politics with our national security will be footnotes in history.
Let there be no — let there be no doubt about it. We are on the road to victory.
Victory! You can say it at this convention. We are winning!
And you know what? America is safer because we’re winning in Iraq. A Muslim nation in the heart of the Arab world that rejected Al Qaeda, a nation where the rule of law replaces the rule of gun, a place in the Mideast where a woman can finally have a say about her children’s future.
While Barack Obama expresses appreciation for our troops’ service, he refuses to acknowledge their success. They have worked too hard, they have sacrificed too much for a patronizing pat on the back.
Barack Obama went 2½ years between visits to Iraq and never once sat down with Gen. Petraeus. If Barack Obama cannot appreciate that our troops are winning in Iraq, he should not be their commander in chief.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Barack Obama doesn’t care. I’m just saying he doesn’t get it.
Not once — not once was Barack Obama’s eloquent voice ever raised in support of victory in Iraq. Not once was it used to rally our troops in battle. Instead, he inspired those who supported retreat and would have accepted our defeat.
We should all be grateful, ladies and gentlemen, that Barack Obama was unable to defeat the surge.
The surge was a test for Barack Obama. He failed miserably.
Our troops deserve a commander in chief who acknowledges their success, has walked in their shoes, speaks their language, shares in their suffering, and will lead them to victory in a war we cannot afford to lose.
That person is my dear friend, John McCain.
John often says he would rather lose a campaign than lose a war. Here’s the good news: We’re going to win this war and John McCain will be our next president of the United States.
But wait. But wait. It gets even better, because John McCain has one of the toughest and most talented political reformers in America as his running mate.
Let’s watch, right behind me, and learn more about the phenomenal governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
God bless America.