(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) drew cheers and applause when he told a debate audience Tuesday night, "I blame Obama for ISIL, not Bush. I'm tired of beating on Bush. I miss George W. Bush. I wish he were president right now. We wouldn't be in this mess."
The discussion began with Graham calling it "absolutely imperative" for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to go. "The biggest mistake Obama made was drawing a red line. Assad crossed it. He is still standing.
"If I'm president, Assad will not stand. He has murdered 240,000 of his own people. They're not going to accept him as their leader. The war never ends if he stays in power. You're giving Damascus to the Iranians."
Graham called Assad "a puppet of the ayatollah, a proxy of Iran" who is allied with Hezbollah and keeps weapons flowing from Damascus to Lebanon. He said the Syrians must pick their leader, instead of Iran deciding who it will be.
Huckabee, invited into the conversation, said the U.S. should use its energy reserves as an "offensive weapon" to change the dynamics of the Middle East: "I still believe if you take away their ability to fund their weaponry and fund their terrorism, they don't have terrorism."
"Well, I agree with that," Graham told Huckabee. "You know, I'd like to stop sending $350 billion overseas to buy oil from people who hate our guts, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you like to export natural gas to cut Putin's legs out from under him? I'm not afraid of a guy (Putin) riding around on a horse without his shirt.
"The guy has got a pair twos and we've got a full house, and he's walking all over Obama.
"Mike, the surge worked," Graham told Huckabee. "It worked. George W. Bush made mistakes, but he did adjust. I blame Obama for ISIL, not Bush. I'm tired of beating on Bush. I miss George W. Bush. I wish he were president right now. We wouldn't be in this mess.
"I'm tired of dictators walking all over us. I'm tired of siding with the Iranians and the Russians."