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. Ryker

    I thought the Tea Party was "independent" which would mean that they should definitely run as a third party candidate if they lose in either Democratic or Republican primaries. If the Tea Party folks are just really conservative Republicans, then they should stop saying they are independent.

    March 9, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. redisgreat

    Scared of the Tea party already?? Wow that is nice to hear. Go Tea Party. We need a good strong third party in this country. It would certainly make Congress a livelier place. Maybe even force some REAL change. Just think of it, both the Dems and the Repubs WORRYING about the future of their parties. Vote out all incumbents this November.

    March 9, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. eolufemi

    Lols, the fact that he feels comfortable telling a grassroots movement not to challenge Republican frontrunners tells us all we need to know about the legitimacy of the Tea Party folks as a grassroots movement. What a bunch of frauds. Independents are you sure these are the people you want to rally around? Do you honestly believe that they want anything more than to regain power?

    March 9, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. Jay

    Oh yes, Mitt (who names their kid after a molded piece of cowhide used to play a kind's game?), that's exactly what we need. Another 4-year go 'round for the conservative GOP nitwits that brought us the Iraq War (based on lies and fear), the economic collapse (based on neglect and ignorance) and a general disgust and distrust by the international community (based on torture and a blind eye to the consitutional foundations of our justice system). Mitt, you want to do something good for your country? Quit whining and leave the "Gaggle Of Pinheads" party of 'No'. Help pass health reform instead of sucking up to big insurers. Help the poor instead of lining your warchest with money from corporate donors. In other words - become a man!

    March 9, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. DOG1

    That's right you teapartyers, do what your told like the rest of the right wing sheep! Since it's obvious you don't think for yourself you need to be "guided"!

    March 9, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. hmb

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Please DO divide and FAIL!

    March 9, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. sammieb51

    So much for democracy ... now which party is it again that is so anti-American? Hmmmmm let me see ....

    March 9, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Wisconsonite - It's Not Socialism, It's SANITY

    Oh Mittens . . . .you're such a killjoy!

    March 9, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. Lance

    Of course Romney doesn't want a third party bid. All of America knows that Romney is a RINO liberal and on the edge of losing, what he thinks, is his "conservative" status. Guess what, us real old school conservatives are fed up with the status quo and if that means voting out all RINO'S and voting in independents, conservatives or libertarians then so be it. It's time to take our country back to what the founding fathers indented, smaller government and personal liberty.

    March 9, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Dave

    While those in the tea party movement are justified to be angry at both republicans and democrats, I believe Romney is right. And, there is no way I want the democrats to be in power any more based on what they are currently doing.

    March 9, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. cspurgeon

    Sadder yet would be handing it to the plastic man...

    March 9, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Minnesotan

    Funny that Romney is worried about loons, crazies, whackos, and nut-jobs "siphoning votes" from the Republicans. Pretty obvious that the GOP "base" is predominantly living in delusion-land.

    March 9, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    I think the Teabaggers should show their independence and run as many candidates as they can, in local and national elections.

    If Romney and Palin truly believed in democracy and representative government, they should keep their self-serving advice to themselves.

    March 9, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    It's interesting that Tea parties conservatives only notice "big government" when it's something their political enemies want. When conservatives want it, apparently it doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants a trillion-dollar foreign war, that doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants a 700-billion-dollar bank bailout, that doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants to spend billions fighting a needless and destructive War on Drugs, that doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants to spend billions building border fences, that doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants to "protect" the huge, unjust, and terribly inefficient Social Security and Medicare programs, that doesn't count.
    • If a conservative wants billions in farm subsidies, that doesn't count.

    It's truly amazing how many things "don't count."

    Libertarians are the closest thing to the centralist policies that this nation desperately needs right now.

    March 9, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Matthew

    I love how handing the country over to Obama is such a bad thing seeing how he has done nothing but try and help americans get coverage and the last president was on a killing spree in the name of what he said was weapons but we all know it was for the oil him and his daddies friends invested in

    March 9, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. EricLR

    This whole Tea Party movement has been funded and organized by the Republican Party from the get-go. The people in it who think they're truly independent or going to change Washington are just a bunch of dupes. The sole purpose of this "movement" is to harass the Obama admin and Democratic Congress. The second the Republicans are back in power, the Tea Party movement will be dropped like a hot potato (with a few stupid die-hards sitting around wondering where all their funding went). Then the Republicans will return to the same spending-spree they were on for the eight years of the Bush admin. They're only for fiscal responsibility when they're not the ones spending the money.

    March 9, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. a health economist

    "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,"

    The other good thing about libertarians is that they don't drop their principals when it suits them. I can't say that for many, if any, of the Republicans in office between 2000 and 2008. I may not agree with everything the stand for, but they at least have credibility.

    March 9, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Ryan

    Bbbbbut wait... I thought the tea partiers were a grass roots non partison group concerned about governement spending? Or maybe they are just the moonbat extreme right... er, I mean center of the GOP.

    March 9, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Phil

    That's right, Tea Partiers, Romney bases his beliefs on what the polls tell him to believe so just make your opinions known and he'll be as conservative as you want him to be. No need to look for another candidate when he can be whatever you're looking for.

    March 9, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Oh don't worry, it's not as if Tea Partiers seriously want to challenge republicans... they ARE republicans. They've made it very clear that they support specific (and very hypocritical) republican policies and candidates.

    March 9, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Tom in Delaware

    No problem here Mitt....no Ross Perot to allow Obama a second term...check.

    March 9, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Regina P

    he's a poet and he didn't even know it.

    March 9, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Regina P

    "basically hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."
    he's a poet and he didn't even know it.

    March 9, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. mike

    up yours "mitt"

    March 9, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. hank lenson

    Tea Party advocates need to recognize that the core values espoused in the conservative movement are essentially their own. I respect the tea party movement for wanting to bring America back to fiscal conservatism, the Republican party back in line with it's fiscally conservative, smaller government roots. I think Romney and the Republican party need to listen hard to the growing chorus of boo's and outrage that will only get worse as we spend our way into bankruptcy (aka an Obamanation). We are no longer the wealthiest nation in the world thanks to leadership that has pandered everything to everyone and left us with an unprecedented deficit from which we will never recover

    March 9, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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