Popular Florida Governor, Early Critic of Iraq War Dead at 87

Bob Graham also served in US Senate, ran for president
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 17, 2024 1:30 AM CDT
Bob Graham, Fla. Governor and Early Critic of Iraq War, Dead at 87
Sen. Bob Graham, right, speaks during the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling meeting on Sept. 27, 2010, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Former US Sen. and two-term Florida Gov. Bob Graham, who gained national prominence as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks and as an early critic of the Iraq war, has died. He was 87, the AP reports. Graham's family announced the death Tuesday in a statement posted on X by his daughter Gwen Graham. "We are deeply saddened to report the passing of a visionary leader, dedicated public servant, and even more importantly, a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather," the family said.

Graham, who served three terms in the Senate, made an unsuccessful bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, emphasizing his opposition to the Iraq invasion. But his bid was delayed by heart surgery in January 2003, and he was never able to gain enough traction with voters to catch up, bowing out that October. He didn't seek reelection in 2004 and was replaced by Republican Mel Martinez. Graham's view was that the Iraq war diverted America's focus on the battle against terrorism centered in Afghanistan. He was also critical of President George W. Bush for failing to have an occupation plan in Iraq after the US military threw out Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Graham said Bush took the United States into the war by exaggerating claims of the danger presented by the Iraqi weapons of destruction that were never found. He said Bush distorted intelligence data and argued it was more serious than the sexual misconduct issues that led the House to impeach President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. "The quagmire in Iraq is a distraction that the Bush administration, and the Bush administration alone, has created," Graham said in 2003. (Much more on his remarkable career, and his many quirks, here.)

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