Sanford, a fiscal hawk from the Charleston area with solid credentials on social issues, has seen his name floated by national political observers as a possible running mate for McCain. But within South Carolina, Sanford has maintained a rocky relationship with Republican legislators over spending and reform issues.
Speaking with reporters and editors from The State newspaper in Columbia, Graham praised Sanford as a "solid conservative reformer" and said of the 47-year old governor, "I think his profile nationally among conservatives is very positive."
However, Graham noted that Sanford has had a "tough" tenure as governor, and argued that adding a South Carolinian to the Republican ticket would have a meaningless electoral impact.
"To be honest with you," said Graham, "I don't see any of us in South Carolina bringing a whole lot of value to the ticket. We're talking about winning a national race that's going to be very competitive."
Sanford did not endorse McCain or any GOP candidate before the South Carolina primary, but he has since backed the presumptive nominee.
"When it comes time to pick a vice president, that the smart money, I think, would be trying to add to the national security, you know, reinforce that aspect of the ticket," Graham said.
Speculating on what could happen in his state this fall, Graham said he considered South Carolina too conservative to turn blue in the general election, but still predicted Barack Obama had the potential to shift the electoral map.
"Sen. Obama would create energy and enthusiasm, particularly among African-Americans, so there he is ... some states would be in play that hadn't been in play before," he said.