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. Death of the GOP

    The GOP is destroying themselves from the inside. If Tea Party candidates beat any republicans in a primary, they will definitely lose a general election. The Tea Party is too far right. If a Tea Party member is elected, God help us all. These people have shown there true colors for what they really represent and it has nothing to with taxes.

    March 9, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. jules sand-perkins

    Romney is right on this one.
    Conservatives, let us not divide ourselves and be conquered by Obama again.
    After the White House game playing to get Rep. Massa out of the health-care vote, I no longer feel like referring to Obama as "President Obama," even though we all know that everybody has the potential to make filth and sling it around. This administration, particularly, doesn't mind playing transparent tricks on its perceived enemies, even from the same party.

    March 9, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. spinnikerca

    " The potential presidential candidate also dismissed his second place finish to 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 congraultate them for that," he said."

    Pretty disingenuous of MITT ROMNEY of all people to imply the straw poll was 'only' due to organization - given how he won it the last three years, and given how he would have won it this year if he hadn't been, at very least, out organized.

    March 9, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. DaveMcc

    I love how the Repubs warn not to split votes, but then won't concede the issues the Tea Baggers want on Repub agenda's... you can't have it both ways ... Either represent these people properly, or lose their votes

    March 9, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Totally disagree. The citizens need more option, and third party candidates are highly desirable.

    March 9, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. willi

    where's the dan rather watermelon story where he says the resident couldn't sell watermelons on the side of the road???

    now that's a story!!!

    March 9, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. Marcus Tate

    Maybe if the Republican Party could come up with just one good candidate, there wouldn't be a need for a third party. Which tired retread will the Republicans trot out next time – MCCain again, Romney again, Huckabee, or god forbid, Sarah the idiot Palin again, etc? If you can't come up with anybody good on your own, then don't blame people for looking elsewhere for a good candidate.

    March 9, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    If Romney doesn't want the Tea Partiers to ruin Republican chances, maybe he'd better see to it that the views of the Tea Partiers are represented by the Republican Party. And that means basically one thing: go back to small government and fiscal restraint.

    Frankly, at this point, I don't much care whether Dems or Reps are running, or ruining, the country. The Dems will bankrupt us giving freebies to "the poor" and the GOP will bankrupt us trying to play World Cop while at the same time trying to cram their paranoia and their "morality" down our throats. Either way, I lose and the country loses.

    And if Romney really thinks of libertarians "that when they are called to show up somewhere they do," he's never met a libertarian. We do what we think is right, not what we're told is right.

    And "...welcome [Ron Paul's] participation in the party. It's a big tent party."

    Yeah, right. The only real small-government fiscal conservative of any national awareness in the GOP, and he gets boos and jeers when he wins their straw poll. Real "welcoming," that...

    March 9, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. SickOfTheParties

    As a non-conservative, it is clear to me that the Tea Party Movement is real grassroots.. and unlike the astro-turf that is planted from time to time by the DNC or GOP, controlling the Tea Party Movement will be like herding cats...

    March 9, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Publius13

    Stop whining Mitt. Political freedom means that anybody, whether they be Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Gene McCarthy, or Ross Perot can run as an independent or as a third-party candidate. We all know that Ralph Nader helped mightily to elect George Bush and that Ross Perot sealed the deal for Bill Clinton. That's life in these United States. Unless you want to change the Constitution to a parliamentary system, third parties and independents are periodically going to throw a wrench into the two-party system.

    March 9, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Ed Tallahassee

    So one side of Romney calls the Tea Parties "the Silent Majority" but then asked about why he lost the straw poll he says it's Libertarians that are a small but vocal minority. I understand that they might not all be the same people, but there is some cross-over and I think that it rather telling the label he is using.

    March 9, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Wmscot

    Sad for who Mitt ? While I have to agree that the leaders of the congress should get the boot. OUR president is working very hard for OUR country to get it back in shape after your party destroyed it these last 10 years.

    March 9, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Mr. Moderate

    Silent majority? More like a vocal minority that gets a disproportionate share of attention because its an intriguing story. They had no impact in Texas and their convention attracted 600 people. Star Trek conventions get over 10,000 people!

    But again it goes to show that the priorities of the political elite like Mitt are 1) Power 2) Party with country and constituent trailing far behind.

    March 9, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Marcus Tate

    The so called lead candidate of your Republican Party is in the news today claiming "God wrote on his hand, too" – and you wonder why people are looking outside the party?????

    March 9, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Maybe the Tea Party could draft Ralph Nader, Between him splitting the dems and the Florida Supreme Court, any idiot could become president, maybe even the shrieking cow (you know who I mean). Have a nice day!

    March 9, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. Joel

    The Republicans and Democrats are entrenched and will not save this country from its downward spiral. A 3rd part may siphon votes from Reps now, but it may the best deal for America in the long run.

    March 9, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Jimmy

    Romney is to the republican party as john kerry is to the democratic party,a past loser.WHY WOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM?he sees himself as the frontrunner in 2012 but he wont be by then.He wants to deminish any chance of competition against him.

    March 9, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. John D

    Message to Romney: How about putting someone out there we can get behind. Someone without all the baggage that usually comes with candidates. How about putting someone out there who is not a liar, womanizer, writer of bad checks or spouse abuser.

    Both parties need an enima to flush out the dirt that both parties are covered in. Politicians are destroying this country. Not the citizens, although all you jerks who could not see through Obama and voted him in are part of the problem.

    March 9, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Jon

    Romney, as a solid member of the establishment, pleads with people to continue to support the establishment. What a shock. But Romney is wrong. The only way to take the country back is to support the people that you actually believe in, even if they're from a third party. Voting for the likes of Romney got us into this mess.

    March 9, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. JD from Moraga, CA

    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."

    What a crock from old Helmet Hair. While I may not agree with the Tea Partiers' specific agenda items, I will not (as Romney has) attempt to stifle their right to free expression.

    The two-party system needs to be questioned and challenged, and I applaud anyone who does so.

    March 9, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. Joan

    Romney and other Republicans had better keep the faith with conservatives a lot better than they have in the past if they want the Tea Party vote. Tea Party people simply want responsible fiscal policies, lower spending, less giveaways and bailouts. I don't think that is much to ask of a responsible steward, and our representatives should be held accountable for their insane spending. So, if we can get Republicans who will tighten the belt of government, not bow to union pressures, and not join in the give aways, the Republicans will get our vote.

    March 9, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  22. Dis Gusted

    Romney is entitled to his opinion, but it is only "his" opinion, not everyones. Romney, Scott Brown, Rick Perry......all these "pretty" guys; they are so full of themselves. We would all be better off voting good ole "homely" types who are doing their jobs for the greater good and not for their political reputations. Those politicians who vote against something that is obviously not for the greater good, should be man/woman enough to stand up and put it in understandable language why they voted the way they did.

    March 9, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  23. Doug,lib jersey

    Every decent American who has even a shred of morals, values, and integrity must come together to defeat the Chicago thug socialists who run all three branches of our government.

    Even if you are a blue stater lib who has caused a lifetime of harm to people you don't even know daily with your narcisisst democrat mentality, you have the chance to make amends and help save our great nation and yourself whenever you have to answer for your actions to our creator. Maybe just remember that their is a human life in that car you are able to run off the road, a person who is a father, mother, son or daughter. Just one moment of thinking like a conservative could start a chain reaction that makes you a decent human being!

    March 9, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. MR AMERICA, average American

    The only thing sad is the fact that these folks only decided to "speak up" when a Dem got into office. The have zero credibility. The fact that Romney is giving them any attention at all shows that the GOP is still clueles.

    March 9, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. Monkey wrench

    The GOP had better step up on this go round and walk the walk. If you are watching the economic forecasts instead of the politics, America is in some very serious trouble. Entitlement liabilities far out weigh revenues and that means only one thing, increase in taxation somewhere. Discretionary spending is only 14% of the budget, it can't be cut out but if it were, it would have ZERO impact on our National deficit, the interest paid to our creditors would surpass the benefit of spending cuts . Our Nation is in some serious financial trouble and this Administration is using so-called healthcare reform as a vehicle to cripple us even further. I am really wondering if this is not the master plan of the progressive liberals to destroy our Nations economy as is and then try to usurp their idea of Utopian society. Naw, that would be like trying to re-write history books.

    March 9, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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