October 13th, 2009
01:35 PM ET
5 years ago

Graham: GOP 'not going to be the party of angry white guys'

Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke at a town hall in South Carolina on Monday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke at a town hall in South Carolina on Monday.

(CNN) – South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has always enjoyed a little back-and-forth with belligerent audiences.

He was at it again on Monday night as he faced down an angry town hall crowd in Greenville packed with libertarians and Tea Party activists who accused at the Republican senator of ditching conservative principles by working with Democrats on issues like climate change and voting to send Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

But Graham stressed a mantra he's repeated many times since his friend John McCain lost the presidential election last November - that the GOP must reach out to different constituencies, or face extinction.

"I'm not going to leave the Republican Party," Graham said when one questioned asked him why he hasn't yet joined the Democrats. "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."

His comments were met with a salvo of boos and shouts of "Ron Paul!"

"I love this party," he responded. "I'm not going to be let it be hijacked by Ron Paul."

Graham emphasized his conservative bona fides - particularly his record of opposing abortion rights and support of gun rights - but said GOP needs to build a broader coalition. Otherwise, he warned, those trying to purify the party will turn Congress over "to the most liberal people in the world because somebody disagrees with you."

"I'm going to find people in Maine, Delaware, Illinois and other places that can win," he said. "And I'm going to help them, and we're going to move this party and this country forward. If you don't like it, you can leave."


Filed under: Lindsey Graham • South Carolina
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Tina, NC

    "I love this party," he responded. "I'm not going to be let it be hijacked by Ron Paul."

    I love that comment. The truth is, if these teabaggers and so called conservatives believed one thing that comes out of their own mouths they would have voted for Ron Paul. He, as crazy as he is, at least can back up his craziness by the way he's voted. Graham and the rest of the Republicans are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. That's why when they constantly scream about deficits I ignore them.

    And alienating women, Hispanics, Black people, and gays pretty much leaves you with a party of "angry white guys".

    October 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Tony

    *LOL* Even Lindsey Graham is now engaging in identity politics. How pathetic! Does he want to be voted out instead of just retiring as one of South Carolina's senator? What he clearly doesn't realize is that the party base WANTS to embrace Ron Paul-like politicians. Libertarians are much more likely to attract independents to the party than lying conservatives like Lindsey Graham.

    October 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Sea.gem

    Not going to change my skin color but I will continue to be an educated white conservative who understands fiscal policy, thus, I see the path we are on is not sane nor will it result in net job growth...you also do not have to embrace ALL aspects of the green movement (that would be ludicrous and counter-productive), however, itis correct to strive for cleaner fules (fossil included0) and a clean environment.

    October 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Limp-Dick Blimpaugh

    It's too late for the the party of obstruction and just say "NO". They are now angrier, racist, terrorists and hate-monguering, screaming lunatics.

    October 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Lynne

    Too late...

    October 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. townna brown

    some one has to grow up and step up to the plate rather obamo theme on change work or not its time for us all to come togother this stuff going on around here is not just hurting the poor but the middle class too

    October 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. T Mckinley

    It is not Ron Paul who has hijacked the Republican party.

    It is Rush, Hannity, Beck, Coulter, Malkin, Kristol, Dick and Liz Cheney, Faux News, Bachman, etc. who have hijacked the Republican party.

    October 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. JS007

    Ha ha ha, the problem is not that the GOP has been hijacked by Ron Paul – he's actually a smart and honest man, the problem is that they've been hijacked by Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, the Cheneys, and the Fox propaganda network. The Dark Ages way of (non)-thinking has set in, so good luck Lindsey. These people don't even want to hear anything that upsets their idea of reality, facts or not.

    October 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. gt

    need more in the 60/40 group ...on both sides,, no many radicals like shurmer and boxer...we need more nelson and pryor...the senate looks like a retirement home... we need new blood on both sides...

    October 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Kansan

    "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys." LOL – You already ARE a party of Angry "OLD" White Guys that still live on 1950's standards.

    October 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Wanderer

    Mr. Graham is right and I believe him. He does not represent the angry white guys. Unfortunately, Mr. Graham is one of the only handful guys who are not angry in his party. What is he going to do to help his party grows with the least angry guys?

    October 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. Anita ~ Columbus, Ohio

    "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys." Sounds a little like racism to me, but then I tend to look at the color of one's blood ~ rather than their skin ~ especially when I know they're doing their best to defend & represent our country throughout the world. Too bad some of the GOP might be color blind when it comes to the blood being shed by those who REALLY matter!

    October 13, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Brian

    No worries, Lindsay, I left long ago. And I suspect as more of your compatriots true colors are seen, there will be many joining me

    October 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    "If you don't like it, you can leave," are well spoken words by Senator Graham. He is right in saying that the GOP has become the party of angry white men. That is clear because the audience booed him when Graham made the comment. They want to see him as a "good ole boy" seeking to keep this country "pure". Is this what the GOP has become?

    October 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. jonna

    Oh, I think it is the party of angry white guys.

    October 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. Dominican Momma 4 Obama

    As a TRUE Republican, I'd like to see this guy go over with Spector so WE can move on without this loser.

    REAL REPUBLICANS in 2010!!!!!!

    October 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Maria from VT

    Thank you Mr. Graham for your comments

    October 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. eanmd

    ...Oops !!! – Too Late.

    October 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. sadnbra

    Right on Lindsey Graham!. Thank you for having the guts to stand up! I am a d Democrate ,but the party of Abramham Lincoln and his principals need to be protected. We need two viable partiesn not this out of control ideology.

    October 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. GOPer

    Who is Lindsey kidding? His ridiculous attempt to insult Ron Paul is not going to grow the "party."

    And the GOP has already been hijacked >> by extreme right-wing fundamentalists and the neocons, who are largely Caucasian males with a destructive agenda.

    These GOPers should go the way of the Whigs.

    October 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. GabeNTX

    This guy is a hypocrite (at best). He says he wants to "broaden the party" but insists that "[he's] not going to let it be hijacked by Ron Paul."
    So as long as the republican party is full of politicians who don't act like republicans then he's growing the party. This guy is the fringe, a kook, and basically an angry white guy.

    October 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Kevin

    But you are Blanche, you ARE the party of angry white guys. Denial isn't a pretty thing on anybody, least of all you Sen. Graham.

    October 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Kathy

    It's too late, the GOP IS the party of "angry white guys", the Grumpy Old Party. They make alot of noise, prey upon peoples fears, but have nothing to offer and absolutly no sympathy for those suffering during the recession. They are rigid in their beliefs, behind the times, and are so full of hate it just makes me sick.

    October 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. JP

    Now there a Republican I can get behind, willing to fight for the soul of the party.

    October 13, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Allen

    Too late.

    October 13, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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