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Lindsey Graham officially launches presidential exploratory committee

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gives a thumbs up after being re-elected, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday announced the formal launch of an exploratory committee to consider a 2016 bid for the White House, adding another candidate to an already crowded field of potential GOP presidential candidates.

The committee, called "Security through Strength," has been described by Graham as a "testing-the-waters" committee to help explore the viability of his candidacy. Graham announced the formal creation of the committee on Fox News.

"I’m going to take a look at the presidential primary on the Republican side. We’ll have an organization up and running today," Graham told Fox News. "This organization will allow people to donate money and their time and resources to see if there is a pathway forward for me."

“The committee will fund the infrastructure and operations allowing Graham to travel the country, listen to Americans, and gauge support for a potential presidential candidacy,” reads a description on the organization’s website.

Graham has previously indicated his interested in a presidential run and announced several weeks ago that he intended to launch a formal committee. His most vocal backer has been Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a close friend who has openly encouraged him to make a bid.

While not regarded as a top-tier candidate, Graham holds the potential to make some waves in the GOP field. A staunch military hawk and a sharp critic of President Obama's foreign policy, he would likely compete with the likes of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) for voters who prioritize national security issues.

Graham's comments indicate that national security wll be the central pillar of his presidential bid.

"Ronald Reagan famously said his goal was to have peace through strength. In my view, you can never have peace with radical Islam. They want to destroy us and our way of life, so peaceful coexistence a non-starter from their point of you and, quite frankly, from my point of view, but you can have security," Graham said.

One potential vulnerability for Graham is his moderate stance on immigration. He was a part of a bipartisan group of senators that pushed a sweeping comprehensive reform measure in the last Congress. The bill passed the Senate but went nowhere in the House, as conservatives who opposed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants torpedoed it.

Graham has served in the Senate since 2003. Despite talk that he might face a serious primary over his moderate positions, he cruised to reelection in 2014.