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. MatthewDetroit

    I do agree with Romney.
    The avenue to change is forcing the primaries to observe that change.
    If we can make our influence known and get rid of people like John McCain in Arizona it will help the country immensely.

    Whether you are a Democrat, Indpendent, or Republican it is time to fight for a more conservative way of life.

    It is time to cut spending and it is time to cut big goverment.

    I ask everyone to be active and write your senators and congressmen.
    The change starts at the grassroots level. We need to figh all of the new spending that includes Health Care, Cap and Trade, and any entitlements.

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. snood

    Not a big fan of the repubs, bu the is right in Mn we ended up having 3 party races more then ones. what happens is Jesse ventura, Norm coleman or Nixon

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Daniel

    Don't worry,with all the ignorance and fanaticism running rampant across the Unites States,those right-wing,foul-speaking,uncouth,hateful Tea Partiers are bound to thrive.And Mitt Romney will continue to flourish politically along with all the other right-wing creeps who are slowly taking over the country with the help of the Tea Party Express.

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Natalia

    No, what's sad indeed is the republican party....

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Ben Harrison

    Just more proof that the Tea Party is a funded extension of the GOP. Every one of them will vote for the republican candidate... make no mistake about it.

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Rafer Janders

    I hear "Reef" sandle company is coming out with the Romney line or Flip/Flops... Ron Paul is going to wipe the floor with this un princpled "Say anything" to get elected, An empty shirt Corperations Yes Man!
    Ron Paul 2012

    March 9, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. cjr

    you folks are getting scared – aren't you??? No to the party of No! No vote for any republican on any level!

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Dennis

    While I often agree with Romney, he's dead wrong on this point. If he knows what's good for this country (and for himself), he'll jump ship and try to become a leader of a third party. The country is already in the hands of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Now is the time to support a third party, because we have nothing to lose. Even if Democrats remain in control, their liberal policies will drive more and more people to the right as their programs fail and America enters bankruptcy, and a third party will gain FAR more support than the Republicans.

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. Ender

    Can you republicans PLEASE stop the lies?

    You are NOT conservative. In the last 3 decades the REPUBLICANS have spent FAR more than the Democrats. And with far worse results.

    The Republican party is NOT conservative.

    They are the party of borrow and spend and they care nothing about how their folly gets paid for.

    They are the party of "wrack up huge deficit spending and then expect the Democrats to pay it off".

    They are the party of 'Do as I say, not as I Do".

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. steven harnack

    Tea partyers are no where near a majority but a majority of tea partyers are idiots and they would be doing the majority a huge favor if they would just be silent.

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Dave O'Dell

    He's right. Keep the conservative kookiness concentrated.

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    Mitt is absolutely right. 3rd party candidates are only successful in dividing and gifting the election to their worst nightmare (Obama). Just look at Perot, Nader, Buchanan, etc. Even if you are HIGHLY successful, you will get 10-15% at best and LOSE. Standing unreasonably on "principle" will result in Obamacare, amnesty for illegals, and continuance down a rapid road to socialism.

    Take your best crack in the primaries, and if unsuccessful support the best candidate of the two in the general.

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. Nick , California

    Here we go, the Republicans trying to secure their power! The tea party will most certainly be hijacked by the Republican party... fools! The Republicans make me sick... fear, lie, fear, boogie man, Obama, Pelosi, oooohhhhhhh!!!! I'm sooo sick of this end of the world crap! YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET MY FEAR VOTE! I don't live my life looking behind my shoulder!!! Living in fear is what the terrorist wanted and it seems that the Republicans are hell bent on doing the same thing.. for what.. the people.. yeah right.. more like POWER!!!! Humans will never change and every great society will fall.. Its just a fact. Sad

    March 9, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. harleydavidson

    i hope the tea party is listening.

    March 9, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Gary Street

    How arrogant! To assume that the Republican Party has all the answers and are the party of conservatism. They had eight years to demonstrate their conservative nature and failed. They should all be voted out of office and a third party candidate can be given a chance to truly respresent the American people, not a political party.

    March 9, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Marie

    I have to say that I hope the Republican Party knows what it is doing here?!!!! They had better be careful aligning themselves with the Tea Party movement they might just get what they are looking for but it will have a high price. Have you seen some of these folks? Some of them want to form Milia's and take over the government themselve and many of them are not very literate folks; most of which are just angry that their party spent everything. Lets be for real here we are all to blame; we are a very greedy country, we did this to ourselves.

    March 9, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. RonNoSpam

    The GOP's strength derives from toeing the party line regardless of the facts or circumstances. So naturally they want to assimilate the Tea Partiers. I just wonder whether there is enough foresight in the Tea Party movement to recognize that the GOP is likely to treat them the same way it has the religious right? Republicans obviously want Tea Party votes for an undivided ballot, but if the last 8 years under Bush was any indication, Americans can expect anything but smaller, leaner government, much less a return of the individual freedoms Tea Partiers tout under Republican leadership. So it apepars to me that hitching the Tea Party to the Republican party platform is nothing more than a guarantee that Tea Party standards will eventually be jettisoned to ensure Republicans stay in office.

    March 9, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Kevin in Atlanta

    So the GOP is trying to turn the Tea Party into a side project...

    Sad thing is, they'll probably succeed.

    March 9, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. potterpoliticalpickle

    Message to anyone who doesn't fit neatly into our two parties – conform, conform, conform. As with most things, practicality trumps all else including problem-solving and progress.

    March 9, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Michael

    Mitt Romney is just another big business player. Same as Bush and every other republica and democrat. It's time for a third party or fourth. The current two party system just manipulates and distorts the truth.

    March 9, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Andy

    Well, here's the truth. Both parties are to blame, want to preserve their base. Neither party is a friend to the citizens of the United States. Their loyalty is to their party, not the American citizens.

    March 9, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. Disappointed in poli-TRICK-tians

    Then what's the use in having a Tea Party in the first place, Mitt? Couldn't all the Tea Partiers just as well call themselves conservative republicans? Oh... I guess the novelty effect would be lost in translation. Face it, the US political machine is a two-party system, and when that anomylous third party gets a little attention, it usually rocks the boat in a not so predictable direction.

    Come on Tea Party folks, be true to your largely independent roots, and let's see what happens!!!

    March 9, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. Mike from MN

    There should be a law that says you can attempt one run at the presidency.

    This would eliminate all the losers from ever trying again and again and again ....

    March 9, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. Joe in PA

    I would like to suggest to Mr. Romney that these folksmy not be silent, but they are not the majority.

    March 9, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Steve

    Ron Paul/Paul Ryan 2012. The fate of the country depends on it.

    March 9, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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