March 9th, 2010
01:57 PM ET
4 years ago

Romney to Tea Party movement: No third party bids

Mitt Romney on Monday warned members of the Tea Party movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections.
Mitt Romney on Monday warned members of the Tea Party movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections.

Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney has a message to Tea Party candidates nationwide: If you lose your Republican primary bids, stay on the sidelines.

The former Massachusetts governor on Monday warned the grassroots movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections, which he said would siphon votes from Republican nominees.

"If there is a conservative candidate that runs in the general election, then obviously, divide and fail is the result," Romney said in an interview with the conservative Web site Newsmax. "Hopefully Tea Party candidates will run in respective primaries and they will either win or lose. And if they win, they will go into the general. If they lose, they won't, and they will get behind the more conservative of the two finalists."

Romney explained that "dividing our conservative effort in the general elections" would "basically hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made similar remarks last month in a speech sponsored by the Arkansas Republican Party. "Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party," she said, adding that the GOP would be the most natural fit for such activists.

Romney had kind words for the Tea Party movement. "I'm really pleased that the silent majority is silent no longer," he said, predicting that the movement "will have have an impact on this election."

"Not all the Tea Partiers are Republicans, not all of them vote for Republicans, but I think most of them will," he said.

The potential presidential candidate also dismissed his second place finish to Texas Rep. Ron Paul in last month's Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll, which he chalked up to libertarian collusion. Paul's win broke Romney's three year winning streak in the straw poll.

"The good thing about libertarians is that when they are called to show up somewhere they do, and when they get a call in the night saying, 'Hey, we need you to show up at CPAC or show up at a straw poll or show up at an event,' they will show up, and you've got to congratulate them for that," he said.

"But I don't think there is a growing portion of Americans who are, if you will, Ron Paul devotees, but he has an influence, and we welcome his participation in the party. It's a big tent party."

UPDATE: Paul spokesman Jesse Benton responded to Romney's claim.

"It takes a tremendous amount of both support and organization to win a straw poll with the prestige of CPAC's," Benton told CNN in an e-mail. "We are proud that Dr. Paul has both. The message of liberty and sound money is growing everyday, and Dr. Paul is honored to be one of the leading spokesman."


Filed under: Mitt Romney • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. Shawn

    Ha Ha! The Tea Party freaks are killing the Republican party. Thanks Dummies!

    March 9, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Sgt. USMC

    I think that the more they repeat things, the more they believe their own lies.

    March 9, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Tim

    We are not an extension of the Rebublican party Mitt!!!! And we will not be used for you agenda and then be casted aside. Either support our agenda or get ready to lose. And when you do, stay on the sideline.

    March 9, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. Gil Oberdas

    As a former Party of No member I hope that the teabuggers don't listen to Mitt and go down the tubes. They can take their icon, sarah palin, with them. What a bimbo! Now she says, "God wrote on his hands too!"

    March 9, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. Bubba

    . . . and if they do, he'll send all his wives to beat them up. Go away, Mittens, you are the numbest wank in all of politics.

    March 9, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Way to put your foot down, Mr. Mittens. By the way, much of the mess we are in today is a result of conservatives and the unfunded social programs of the former compassionate conservative president.

    March 9, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  7. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    So if the choice is between Ron Paul and Mittens, the man with the prefect hair wants you to vote for him. After the way the GOP treated Ron Paul last year, I would think Mittens should stand down.

    March 9, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. Healthcare = Socialism = Welfare = Failure

    Healthcare is just another bill to take from the tax payer and reward the non-taxpayer.The non tax payer is the parasite of society ,fed by the tax payer.

    March 9, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. Daniel

    Mr. Romney, the days of R's or D's telling us how to vote is over. Every one of you are on notice since we have found our voice. Actually, you politicians forced us to find our voice and it is loud and clear. Instead of telling us what we can and can't do, why don't you do what we tell you we want. That's usually what happens in a world where you listen to those who hire you.

    March 9, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Dan In Noo Yawk

    Hey Tea Partiers: How much of your money will Romney spend on his war with Iran (or whoever else he decides to invade to keep our minds off his lousy economic policies and culture war retread)?

    March 9, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. Arlando

    Mitt Romney telling the Tea Party to stay on the sidelines if they lose their Republican Primary is ridiculous and reveals the worst kept secret. It just proves the Tea Party a bunch of sore loses upset that Sarah Palin didn't win. Mitt "Flipper" Romney barking orders to the Tea Party also reveals that the Tea Party is just an arm of the GOP. The Tea Party is just their way of say "Look, independents are screaming mad at the direction of this country." The Tea Party is doomed to fail when Americans see that this tea party is just apart of the Champagne & Caviar Party (GOP)!

    March 9, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. Robert

    And the more intelligent Tea Partiers who oppose runaway spending and big government will remember that it was Republicans who took a surplus and turned it into a trillion dollar deficit, and it was Bush who grew government more than any other president.

    Why would they side with Republicans in a general election? Intelligent ones would not...

    In the last 65 years, only three times have we had balanced budgets, and all of them were under Democrats..... A 4th, Jimmy Carter, submitted a balanced budget in 1979 only to have Congress add an additional 69 billion in deficit spending to it. Reagan bemoaned that to no end, but by the time he ended his presidency he had ballooned deficit spending to over 400 billion dollars. Clinton corrected that and handed Bush II a surplus, and we all remember what he did with that..

    Wake up people. Democrats are not the problem. Democrats fight for the common man. It is the Republicans who work for Corporate America and the very wealthy....

    They say what they need to say to get the more guillable voters behind them, but those who look at the situation today with a more reality based critical reasoning will not fall for it...

    Support the Democrats in a Republican/Democrat matchup...

    March 9, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. bob

    Shhh! Don't explain to them how politics works!

    March 9, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. Jim

    you said it yourself, mr romney ... "I'm really pleased that the silent majority is silent no longer" ... and this is exactly why your president is mr obama.

    i'm hoping the majority remains vocal so obstructionist candidates are voted out of office and people who actually DO something are voted in.

    March 9, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Do any Liberals pay taxes?

    Do any liberals pay taxes,they sure are very ready to spend the tax payers money on socialist agendas.They think capitalism & wealth is evil.Do they work at all?

    March 9, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Case

    I am sure you did not have a problem when Nader took away more than enough votes that would have led to Gore beating Bush in Florida. I hope they run because someone needs to show the GOP the error of their ways. I will vote of a true Conservative, than a Liberterian before I vote for another lying Republican.

    March 9, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. JenC

    It's a Big Tent alright... with three rings in the center and clowns thrown in for general amusement. I doubt any Independent would be looking to have more Barnum and Bailey antics in Washington. We're Bushed and no amount of tea is going to provide an alternative to the sick two-party system that's currently paralyzing the country. You all need to go and viable third party candidates that make sense, like Ron Paul are going to be the preferred candidate. But good luck with that delusion of yours, Mitt... it will keep your spirits up when you're unemployed.

    March 9, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Ben in Texas

    Romney's comments (or, commands) simply verify the fact that the teabaggers are just the far right wing of the Repugnant party. They are there, in Romney's view, to move the party even closer to outright fascism, not to compete with the Repugnants as a whole. If the teabaggers were really a grassroots movement, and not a group organized and funded by the Repugnant leadership, they would be pulling votes from both parties and independents, and they would not be getting their marching orders from the likes of Mittens Romney.

    March 9, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. the dude

    so...we want you...oh, wait, no we don't....as long as republicans get elected

    March 9, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  20. stop the nonsense

    That would be enough of a reason to not vote for him in my book.
    If they want a third party candidate- let them have one.
    What Uncle Mittty is saying to the group is you must vote Republican candidates in no matter how you feel about them or don't vote.

    March 9, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  21. JD

    Sorry, Mitt. We conservatives don't take marching orders from liberals like you.

    Like it or not, RINOs like Romney and their lackeys at the RNC are the whole reason why the Tea Party exists. We've had enough of having to choose between Democrat and Democrat Lite.

    March 9, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. CD

    Mitt,
    I welcome your vote when you recognize I am the leader of the revolution I started.
    Thanks,
    Ron Paul

    p.s. It's a big tent, so I will accept votes from big government neo-cons when you realize the jig is up. Ta ta.

    March 9, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. GI Joe

    How much money you offering for them to give up their rights? Afraid of our freedoms much Mittens?

    March 9, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. America First

    The Tea Party is nothing but an extreme right wing branch of the GOP anyway. Especially if they take their marching orders from GOPers like Romney.

    March 9, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. Jesse

    Perfect for me! Leaders of the Republican party are who got us into the situation we are in now... Not the staunchest Obama supporter, but do understand it will take years and years to clean up a mess it took years to make. To remove current Republican party leadership, and put people in a position of authority that will make a difference (Democrat, or anyone else) is a good thing. Divide and Conquer.... that's how things will get done. I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat that says.... go Tea Baggers! Divide the party and show people how unreasonable and ignorant you really are!!!

    March 9, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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