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."
Listen to yourself Mr. Romney. Bow out now since you think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President.
Keep up the spirit tea-party people. Like Romney says, you are sure
to divide the GOP. As if that bunch of irrelevant idiots were not totally
divided in the first place.
And then you can put Palin and Cheney on top of the whole cake!!
I feel for the few intelligent and realistic conservatives left in that mess.
There is no way to go except independence.
"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.
I don't understand this at all.
I thought the whole point of being an "independent" was that you chose not to affiliate with either party. Why is Palin suggesting that independents associated with the Tea Party are actually Republicans? Wasn't that the whole purpose of the Tea Party to begin with? To create an independent movement?
I guess it never was.
Are you going to do what Mitt Romney says? In places like AZ where the 'old GOP' is not making it a 'fair fight' – 'third party' candidates seem like a 'no-brainer"..
If we're ever to have a third party than people need to vote and abandon the idea of canabalizing republican or democratic party votes. Right now the republican's would like to affiliate themselves or align themselves with the tea party but the reality is its a independent movement that grew out of disenfranchisement with both parties. As I see it, the platform is socially moderate but fiscally conservative. It is fighting against government intervention, pork and spending which is a problem with both parties. Its about structural change to politics and departure from the status quo and two party system which is something no one in either party seems to have the stomach for.
Sounds like the divided party of "NO" is already starting to worry.
This is what the GOP gets for stirring up and cozying up with these crazies in the first place. The republicans can all thank Bush, Cheney and Rove. You live by the sword you die by the sword.
While folks aren't happy with the Republicans, Romney is right. Remember Ross Perot. He split the vote and gave the White House to Slick Willy Clinton.
Romney, go home. The evangelicals are never going to vote for you.
The GOP created the tea partiers and now they can't control them. Your own party created the recent leaked fundraiser mailer that insulted & mocked your own donors as well as the tea partiers themselves. Especially after that, you think the tea partiers are more inclined to listen to you?
Vote Democrat or Independent come November.
Yeah, you tell 'em Mitt! I'm sure all those rubes, hicks, half-wits, birthers, bible thumpers and closet racists will listen to you. Oh dear me, I almost forgot that most of these so-called good Christians wouldn't vote for you anyway because they hate Mormons almost as much as they hate gays, minorities, or anyone else who isn't in lock step with their divisive, exclusionary policies.
Wow. There the 'revolution' for ya kids. I guess Guy Smiley told ya so, so you better not do it, right?
Very sensible and brave advice for Mr. Romney to give for "Tea Party" advocates. Third party movements historically face difficult obstacles and most voters are forced to cast a ballot for the lesser of two bad choices.
Thats right tea partiers, you had your fun, now fall back in line behind your GOP masters. They dont just fund the tea aprty they run it as wel.
Dead wrong. This country needs all the third party candidates it can muster up. Repubs and Dems are just 2 sides of the same worn out coin, more interested in themselves than in serving the people of this country. We need a revolution of third, fourth, etc, party candidates. We need to throw the bums living on the federal dole out of Washington and take this country back before the United States is comprised of nothing but the rich and the poor.
What a charlatan rube! All of a sudden Mitt Romney and the failed Republicans want to co-op the TEA Party movement.
Sorry "Mitt-head", Republicans put this country into the toilet twice with reckless policy. The first Global Depression was the fault of the Republicans – AND they almost put us into the Second global depression with reckless government policies.
TEA Partiers – screw the Republicans let's run our own campaign!!!!
So Romney is saying it would be better to hand the country back to the same people who drove our economy into the ground than to run a third party candidate?? Let's face it the Republicans did a pretty poor job during the 6 years they controlled all branches of government. Why should they be given another chance just 2 years later?
It is in the interest of the DEMOCRATS to keep the 'third party 'myth perpetuated. We have a conservative Republican Party that makes the Democratic Party look like Imelda Marcos at a shoe store.
The Republicans are going to win in a landslide victory, make no mistake about it.
Democrats want to divide and conquer, but for every tax and spend Democrat... there are two conservatives...
One is a Republican the other a Tea Party Patriot.. and they are United!!
Why not a third party – go tea party candidates.
Hey Mr. Romney,
It is NOT for you to dictate........The repub party is not a concern for people like me who desires a Third Party
This could be an interesting next couple of decades. We may actually be close to a multi-party system. The only issue that that both the Dems and Repubs would need to break at the same time in order to work. If the Blue-Dogs and Tea Partiers both broke at the same time it would give us 4 parties, even though you could argue that the Repubs and Blue-Dogs would form one central party. So you would be left with the extreme right, center-right (fiscally conservative/socially liberal), and extreme left. Ultimately this will need to happen in order to make this country succeed.
You never post views from the left that are astute...Fox News is better for the left than CNN. At least, You know where Fox News stands.
Tea Party is to Republicans what Ralph Nader is to Democrats. I never thought I'd be grateful to those out-from-under-the-sheet hate-filled lunatics.
Typical Romney, imposing his views and beliefs on others.
Aren't political party leaders and officials supposed to listen to suporters and voters, not dictate to them what to believe or what to do.
Sadly, those leading Republicans and conservatives just don't get how the American political system is supposed to work.
We've had enough of Obama and is ineptness!!!
Ah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To bad Joe Lieberman didn't follow follow this policy. Of course it only applies to "others" Its time for Americans to wake up and see the political scene for what it is, a giant cesspool sucking every thing good in America down. Its name is the republican and democratic parties both controlled by the same people.