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. Ken

    Romney hopes to instill fear by bashing the opposition and not offering solutions. Sowing fear among the masses worked in the Bush administration and if you have nothing else to offer, that's what you go with. I can only hope that those in the Tea Party movement recognize Romney for the neocon puppet that he is and that America can't afford to go down that road again.

    March 9, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Michael

    Atta boy Mitt. Put the desires of a party ahead of the desires of the people. This is exactly what is screwed up with our political parties. they are more concerned with having control than doing the will of the people. As much as republicans like to tout their consevativeness and point to Ronald Reagan as their standard bearer they forget that Reagan was a moderate. He would not be welcomed into todays republican party.

    March 9, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. KJ

    I disagree with the Tea Party platform. That aside, who is he to dictate what these people should or should not do? My reaction would be the same if there was the liberal equivalent to the Tea Party. Roomney illustrates what is wrong with both parties. It is not about what is good for the country but how do I stay in power. If the Republicans were doing their job, there would be no need for the Tea Party. Democrats should be just as leery as we wil find ourselves in the same boat as Republicans if we don't change our behavior.

    March 9, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    This is the man with "GAME-SHOW HAIR" telling a bunch of lost sheep what to do. And then he says it would be pathetic of the Democrats were to maintain their jobs. This all shows how the USA is going down the drain thanks to mostly republicans, their refusal to help the middle class and to wage stupid wars.. Its just plain sad.

    March 9, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. bamboozer

    Yikes! Common sense from Romney! Expect it to be widely ignored by the Tea Heads.

    March 9, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Jeet

    I think this is hypcritical of the republican possible candidates for elections to suggest that people from some parties should not run as third party candidates. In a democratic society, anyone can choose to be a candidate for election and if the people support that choice, then so be it.

    Therefore, for Mr. Romney or Ms. Palin to suggest that members of Tea Parties should not run as candidates even if they do not win election in primaries is non-democratic and control of the election process which should not be allowed or tolerated. This defeats the idea of free elections that America has been propagating throughout the world.

    Let us get real and do the political campgains on the basis of the candidates' strengths without regard to what anyone should or should not do.

    March 9, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Bobb

    There is a reason why the Tea Party does not simply claim the Republican Party. Let them vote how the feel will most benefit them. If they do not feel aligned with a Republican opponent representing them, then let them run themselves.

    If the Republican vote is split, then that's on them.

    March 9, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. mike

    "Ron Paul devotees" ? "big tent party" shut up Mitt, you cry baby!

    March 9, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Sarah Palin

    How do you like me now?

    March 9, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. oh please

    who is Mitt Romney to welcome Ron Paul's 'participation' in the party? Ron Paul has been 'participating' in the party for well over 30 years, never once wavering in his commitment to fiscal responsibility and individual liberties. His voting record speaks for itself.

    Paul mopped the floor with Romney in the 08 debates, and will do so again if they both decide to run.

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Al

    Ha! Now that Republicans have understood that the beast FOX News created might actually do them more harm than good, they're starting to sweat. People like Sarah Palin yammer about how the "Tea Party has no leader and that's what's great about it," but the second an election looms, the Republicans scramble to try to start telling the Tea Partiers what to do. Rebel, rebel, until it's time to fall in line and obey.

    Sorry, Romney, but it looks like you've got three parties after all: two for the conservatives, and one for the moderates and liberals. Good luck with that, Mittens!

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Brook E. Mantia

    Hey Romney, you can't tell them what to do! It's everyone for themselves now! BA HA HA HA!

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. IVOTE

    Wow.........The Republican's don't believe the "Tea Party" can think for themselves and are giving them their marching orders. Vote Republican no matter what. Dick Army is in charge of the Tea Party and I think he will play ball with the GOP.

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. DP2010

    Same old, same old. "Vote for the lesser evil because the other guy is the boogey man." If giving in to that fear worked, this country would be a utopia by now. Let's try something new: if you want my vote, be worthy of it.

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Anthony

    Party above country.......awesome. look at what we've become.

    March 9, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. florida indep

    Frankly, I don't want to hand the government over to the Democrats or, even worse the bunch that got us into this pickle, the Republicans. These two parties have proved themselves time and again to be nothing but what is wrong with America. It's about time for others to be given a chance and hopefully they will not let we the people down.

    March 9, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Mesa Mick

    Hey, like all rethugs Romney only proving the old political saying...

    Dems fall in love with their candidates,

    Rethugs demand that you fall in line behind them.

    Don't ya just love the way rethugs practice "Freedom of Choice"....

    March 9, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. right wing

    Well Governor, I guess if you're not conservative enough, then you'll have to get out of the way won't you? In case you haven't noticed, the American people are mad, real mad. If you think you can ride the middle of the road to try and mine votes from both sides, Hello, WE don't want a RINO. We are sick of McCain the wishy washy, and if you don't make up your mind one way or the other you will be thrown out on the same heap as McCain will.

    March 9, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. TeaSipper

    Romney is part of the problem. There is not any real difference between the Republicans and Democrats these days...just small differences of degree. Both ultimately want a big bloated and expensive government. They just don't get it.

    Most conservatives and independents now want a limited federal government and lower taxes. The remaining voters are just socialists//communists who want a hand-out so they do not have to be productive and work. I would not be surprised in the next election to see several "tea party" types get into office as republicans or independents.

    March 9, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Mike S

    I liked Mitt; but what a tool... Mitt's translation – "Shame on the "silent majority" for trying to enact a viable third party that challenges the corrupt Republicans and Democrats in power! Move along Sheeple, nothing to see here."

    March 9, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Adalbert

    Romney is wrong as usual. First, the teabaggers are not grassroots. They are financed by the insurance cartels and their supporters. Second, their membership is low and it is diminishing.

    March 9, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Christopher

    Tea Partiers to Romney:

    Stand for what the Tea Parties stand for and we'll talk. The tea parties are about fiscal conservativism, and asking them to give up that position and vote for the borrow and spend social conservative candidate is just about as bad as asking them to vote democratic.

    Vote for the people that stand for what you stand for.

    March 9, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Justin

    So if you thought the Republican party isn't trying to usurp and absorb the tea party movement, then this should make it plain that they are. The tea party movement is as much anti-republican as it is anti-democrat.... Unless of course you are one of the tea party affiliates that get its funding directly from the Republicans.

    March 9, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Live Free or Die

    Romney and the rest of the dinosaurs in the GOP just don't get it. The status quo, with it's slick looks, patronizing sound bites and big money government practices, just doesn't fly with the millions of Americans who are rediscovering the meaning of LIBERTY. Ron Paul is a great example of a leader who truly understands LIBERTY and limited government.

    March 9, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Anonymous

    That's right Mitt. Get them all stirred up in a 'government is bad' ferver and then tell them to go and toe the Republican party line. Priceless.

    In other news, Meg the Twit Wittman has come up with an even more lame radio advertisement this morning. Tax cuts. What a great new idea. At the federal level, that idea only cost us 5 trillion more in debt and crushed our economy. Why do people still buy into this get something for free nonsense? We need taxes to pay for services (police, fire, schools, air traffic control, roads, etc).

    March 9, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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