updated 9/11/2006 2:17:10 PM ET 2006-09-11T18:17:10

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the United States has "screwed up" in Iraq, but the idea of the war was correct and pulling out now would lead to more bloodshed across the Middle East.

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"I know Iraq is a mess and we have screwed up seven ways from Sunday," the South Carolina senator told about 300 people at the College of Charleston on Sunday.

"We underestimated how hard it would be. But the fundamental idea behind Iraq is still correct," said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"If we back out of this fight ... your children and grandchildren will never know peace," Graham warned.

He told the audience, "I come here with more questions than answers" about fighting terrorism. "How do you deal with people who have no place on the planet for you?"

The most critical question, he said, is whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," would use nuclear missiles against that nation. He spoke during a program sponsored by the college's Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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