July 1st, 2010
12:23 PM ET
4 years ago

Graham: Tea Party 'unsustainable'

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Tea Party movement is 'unsustainable.'
Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Tea Party movement is 'unsustainable.'

(CNN) – Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is frequently at odds with conservative activists in his own state, predicts the Tea Party movement will eventually "die out" despite the political energy it's generating during this midterm election year.

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine posted online Thursday, the South Carolina Republican lamented the state of his party and doubted whether the Tea Party movement will survive.

"The problem with the Tea Party, I think it's just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country," Graham told the magazine, recounting his private meetings with members of the movement. "It will die out."

Graham, who was re-elected in 2008, has been censured by multiple county party organizations in his home state because of his bipartisan efforts to fix immigration and energy policy.

He acknowledged that those stances put him at sharp odds with the Tea Party movement, which other GOP leaders have sought to accommodate ahead of the midterm elections. His fellow South Carolina Senator, Jim DeMint, is regarded as something of a hero among Tea Party activists nationwide.

"Everything I'm doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement's at," he said.

Graham stressed his belief that the GOP must welcome different viewpoints if it wants to be competitive in the future.

"We don't have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats," he told the magazine, "Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today."

UPDATE: On CNN's "The Situation Room," conservative radio host Bill Bennett offered a different prediction about the Tea Party movement's future.

"I will predict right now the Tea Parties will outlast the political viability of Lindsey Graham," Bennett said. "But I hope they both survive a long time."

Bennett said Tea Party activists "are not there to govern."

"That's not what the Tea Parties are there for," he said. "Tea parties are a way for people to voice their dissent, their disagreement, to address their grievances, as Thomas Jefferson said."


Filed under: 2010 • Lindsey Graham • Popular Posts • South Carolina • Tea Party movement
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey

    >> "Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today." <<

    Wrong again Senator.

    July 1, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Get A Grip

    Lindsey Graham just needs to admit he's a Democrat.....something we all know.

    July 1, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Mitch

    It will die out when the black president is out of office. That's what's firing those people up.

    July 1, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. mrrationalhbg

    I'm beginning to like graham more and more and I'm a democrat. He seems to be the only republican senator with common sense. Thank you Mr. Graham!

    July 1, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Ron

    I am a STRONG CONSERVATIVE so keep that in mind when I tell you we MUST get rid of Lindsey Graham. He has thumbed his nose at the Conservative Party for years and is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). He has to go. Get rid of him.

    July 1, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    No, Graham, it will not die out. The Tea Party was never legitimate to begin with. Just a bunch of GOPers wearing Tea Party hats, looking foolish, and acting even more foolish in an effort to rile up the base.

    Bottom line: They have always been GOPers. Always will be.

    July 1, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. RAG

    Eventually the so-called "Tea Party Movement" will die out because they all will eventually have to go back on their medication.

    July 1, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Baby Boomer

    Wow... I don't think I've heard any other elected Republican voice their feelings about the Tea Party quite like this. While I'm not a big fan of Lindsey Graham, I applaud his honesty and courage on this topic. I also hope he's right. I hope they do fade away, and soon... The anger and hostility of the Tea Party movement is a recipe for some unspeakable violence and frankly, I don't think any of us really wants to have that happen... Bravo Senator.

    July 1, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    These people only wanted Republicans in charge and didn't care how they spent. If these people had been paying attention, they would have challenged the Medicare Part D as well as a number of bloated bill that were passed by a Republican controlled Congress and White House. These people should be honest with themselves; join the Libertarian party and run for office.

    July 1, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. Al-NY,NY

    Get A Grip....get a life. I guess he's just a RINO since he DARES to even speak in a civil way to Democrats? Keep up the narrowing (purification) of your party and watch it disappear into irrelevance. The more the T-bagg#rs rant, the more isolated they will become. The only people that listen are the truly indoctrinated so they are not gaining anything with the hate speech except being exposed for the ideologues (RIGHT WING) that everyone knows they are

    July 1, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. snow

    No Senator Graham, but you might be voted out. Enough of your kind which is a RINO. Yes where graham stands is totally demorat and should be voted out. Come on South Carolina, step up to the plate and elect a real conservative, after all, your new Governor in November will be a Conservative Republican.

    July 1, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Pam

    The Tea Party will die out. No one can take them seriously when they continue to associate themselves with the likes of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and other "celebrities".
    If they were truly concerned with government reform, they woul have been incensed by what occured during the Bush administration.
    Just a bunch of sore losers!

    July 1, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. Larry

    Lindsey, there might be hope for you after all.

    Glad you're waking up.

    July 1, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. SLP

    Senator Graham, you want it to die out because you are nothing more than a progressive who hides behind the republican title. There is nothing conservative about you. Nothing at all. You aren't even a democrat. You are a progressive just like our president and the rest of this current administration.

    July 1, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Beef King

    As a republican voter for over 40 years, I'm sorry to say that Graham has described the Republican party, not the Tea Party.
    The Tea Partiers have clear vision, and Republicans are lost.

    July 1, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Eti Doofus

    Graham suggests the Founding Fathers were not sustainable. Now we can all understand this guy. In South Carolina terms He is actually a left over British sympathizer from 1776. Perhps descended from Tarleton. We shoulda returned those losers to bloody old England.

    July 1, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. blancheispoison

    He's often at odds with the GOP, just like anyone who thinks and acts for themselves eventually gets in trouble with the GOP. The first thing they get you to do is march in lock step and make you take an oath in blood to do as your told.

    July 1, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Carl

    "There is no Tea Party"
    "The Tea Party is astroturf – it's not really grass roots"
    "...estimates of tens of thousands of Tea Party protesters on the capitol mall"
    "Tea Party will never amount to anything"
    "Tea Party is just a bunch of white racists"
    "Tea Party candidates will only dilute the Republican vote"
    "Tea Party is unsustainable"

    LOL!!! Gotta love the anti-Tea Party voices out there...they've never understood us, they never will, and they will be sitting in their chairs slack-jawed and unbelieving in November when they finally figure out they've been wrong since day one. We aren't going away folks – not until we stop this self-destructive government from destroying our country. Nope...you can deny, ridicule, and insult us until you're blue in the face, but we're not going away.

    July 1, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Tom in Delaware

    I MC'd a Tea Party in Dover yesterday...our last speaker was a Democrat who had some pretty sound ideas that everyone could agree with....that's the American way.

    Funny how everyone's predicted the demise of the Tea Party, yet every day it's influence grows.

    Hey, CNN, I thought I remembered you guys promoting 'The Coffee Party' a couple of months back...whatever happened to that?

    Like Gandhi said, 'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you, then you win.'

    July 1, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Mike in NYC

    Of course, Graham's "coherent vision" is built around amnesty for illegals and worshiping Israel.

    July 1, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. slappy white

    I'm going to miss those crackpots and their three-cornered hats and their misspelled signs, running around misquoting Thomas Paine..

    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Tim - Wilmington, DE

    Lindsey Graham has more sense in his left ear lobe than every other Republican in the Congress or Senate. When CNN says that he's "frequently at odds with conservative activists", what it should say is that he "actually uses his brain and doesn't tow the line with the psychotic, knee-jerk, reactionary, braindead, backwoods nihilists that make up the majority of his party and his party's base". The Tea Party is a national disgrace, a glowing neon sign to show the rest of the world that America still has its fair share of idiotic, paranoid, xenophobic morons. Graham is simply saying what anyone with a shred of common sense is thinking.

    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    Perhaps the trend will actually strengthen.......and hasten your own departure, because again, as with the Dems, you REFUSE TO LISTEN TO THE CITIZENS!

    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Joy

    I just don't understand some of you who think that if a Republican works with the other side they are RINOs. How juvenile is that? How are the really huge problems this country faces going to get resolved if we are at war with each other because of political affiliation. WAKE UP AMERICA.

    If we don't start working together, we are DOOMED to failure.

    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Al

    The Tea Party is a tempest in a teapot.

    July 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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