March 9th, 2010
01:57 PM ET
5 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. anotherGDlefty

    Sorry Mittens, I already helped hand the country to Obama and am pretty happy with the results so far.

    On a side note Mitty, how are YOUR stocks doing since January of 2009 ?

    March 9, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. DAVID

    I have to agree with mr Romney. I hope everyone runs for the primary, but if you lose, dont try as a 3rd party or you will take votes from the other republican and make him most likely lose.

    March 9, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. liberal wing nut

    Im a conservative but the GOP better step in line or get ousted as well.

    March 9, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. mac

    The know-nothing Tea Party wackos should call this guy what he is...a RINO. Run Tea Party Run. Run Tea Party Run. Run Tea Party Run.

    March 9, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. kapechi

    EXACTLY WHAT AMERICA NEEDS is a 3rd party. We have had enough of the two party stranglehold over our lives. There is absolutely NO reason, Independents cannot run America better than the Two Party System. Look at where that got us. Independents can do no greater damage than is already done, and given the independent streak in all of us, much less the actual Founding Fathers, we need to break ALL TIES to any party and run America Right. If the Republican Conservatives think they have a clue, they need to back some Independents, NOT the other way around.

    When someone like Romney gets a clue and takes this position, guess what, WE INDEPENDENTS ARE WINNING ALREADY. FORGET THE "PRIMARIES", PUT AN INDEPENDENT IN EVERY GENERAL ELECTION AND WATCH WHAT AMERICA THINKS THEN.

    March 9, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. BobH

    On the other hand, that's a recipe for Republicrats and Demicons forever...

    Just sayin'...

    March 9, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Tanja

    Don't these idiots understand that the tea-partiers don't agree with the republicans either???

    What a bunch of morons!!

    March 9, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. Romney = Obama

    Romney is unamerican. You say you're a big tent party, but if you can't win get out?

    People have the freedom to vote or campaign as they please. This is why I'm libertarian. I can't stand Obama, but the Republicans are just as bad about out of control spending and let's not even talk about their neo-Christian public policy madness.

    Ron Paul 2012!

    March 9, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Joseph B

    So the Tea Partiers are being told by the Republican leadership "we ran the country into the ground for a decade but please let us back in control and do not do anything to hurt our chances"?

    March 9, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. richard

    Mitt is right, I was hoping that they would not realize it. It was obvious in the 2009 New York 23rd District special election when the Tea Party basically handed the election to the Democrats. But judging from the fervent emotional radicalism that seemingly a large portion of Tea Party members exude will prevent them from listening to Mitt's advice. Second to their hate of liberals is their hate for the Republicans Party bosses.

    March 9, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. mike

    what a joke the tea party is not a third party but a party of uneducated
    do nothing people that are being herded in like the cowboys do with
    cattle and now they are on there way to be a steak on the plate of a
    republican party lobbyist look there butt buddy Scott Brown is kissing
    up to McCain along with Sarah I want to be a movie star Palin. at cpac they booed at Ron Paul and played him down as nothing when are
    you idiots going to wake up and smell the coffee instead of the tea

    March 9, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. CF

    So the republican's strategy is "vote for us or don't vote at all." Real classy. What an outstanding American Romney is.

    March 9, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. MP--VA

    Of course Romney begs this of them because he knows that the Tea Party members are Republicans by and large. If they support third party candidates and split the GOP vote, the incumbent republicans stand to be ousted or incumbent Democrats stand to remain. Since we now know that the Tea Party is only interested in holding accooutable only Democrats and any Republican who reaches across the aisle, Romney is trying to ensure the current crop of incompetent Republican incumbents stay in office, while the Democrats do the same, thus perpetuating the problem and ensuring the continued irrelevance of the Tea Party.

    March 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Bertina

    Well it shows what Republicans think or very likely know very well what the Tea Party movement is, was and always will be- a branch of the Republicans.

    March 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Robb Zerr

    That's a great idea, Mitt. In fact, let's have the other side step aside as well so we can be down to a one-party system that the Republicans pray for. Oh, dang, that's what the Russians, Cubans and Chinese have. Hhm... Isn't the fabric of democracy choice? Or are we done with that nonsense?

    March 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Mike Cooper

    Romney expects the Tea Parties to "earn" power by winning Republican primaries. He warns them not to attempt to win elections until they have past that Republican "test".

    Exactly what has the Republican party done to earn the position of conservative gatekeeper?

    March 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. CommonSense09

    It's so funny how Romney's tries to stay in the news....1st acknowledging Palin is qualified for the office President – liar, kind words for the Tea Party – liar; and dismissing Ron Paul for winning straw poll – hater! Word to Mitt Romney, you've won the straw poll 3 times but lost the GOP nomination to John McCain....stop embrassing your self with all the foolishness and saying anything to every crowd!!!

    March 9, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  18. lost in Texas FOREVER

    yeah Mitty let's hand the country back over to you guys since you all did such a fine job the past 8 years.......The Tea Party folks are going to find out like the so-called Christian right did that the GOP will use them for their own means then cast them aside. In other words please if you don't win step aside and don't mess it up for us! Nice one, Mitt.

    March 9, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. JC

    So he's saying, if there are more people that dont agree with your ideology, shut your piehole and deal with it. I believe that is precisely what they DONT want to hear.

    March 9, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Celeste

    Ron Paul and his supporters are a force to be reckoned with. Romney and the boys better wake up to the fact.

    March 9, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. America Shrugged

    Oh please, a corporate raider telling tea party people to stay silent and support the GOP if they lose in the primaries? What is the point of these tea parties? Oh right, there isn't one other than whining about Obama, democrats, socialists, blah blah blah.. Jesse Ventura is correct, they are a laugh. Where were they when Bush pushed two huge tax cuts through reconciliation, shredding the constitution, specifically the 4th and 5th amendments?

    March 9, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Aunt Bea and Opie

    You tell them Mitch,their really afraid of you,or is your magic BVDs they fear?.hahahaThis squarehead isnt going anywhere soon hahaha,just another knuckledragger in a suit.

    March 9, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. CF

    Two things I've noticed about Ron Paul and his supporters: 1. They use the word "tremendous" a lot. 2. They always over emphasize that Paul is a "doctor": Dr Paul this and Dr Paul that. Like somehow that automatically makes him always right or better qualified or something. Frankly I question the legitimacy of any "doctor" who denies evolution, climate change, and womens' rights over their own bodies.

    March 9, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. Susan

    Oh, I don't know. Why not try a third ultraconservative candidate and find out just how popular these nutjobs really are in the real world – as opposed to the blogosophere. They claim a lot of followers, but I don't really think they'd be able to win that many votes – most people are more reasonable than they are.

    Besides, if the Democratic Party has to deal with Ralph Nader at every election, it seems only fair that the Republicans should have their very own "class clown".

    March 9, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Mike Pappas

    So let me get this straight – the Republican party wants to convince the American people that we are better off sticking with a two-party system?

    In my opinion, what we need is either more parties...or NO parties.

    March 9, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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