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. REG in AZ

    “When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” We all understand that warning; well how about when what they say is so much BS it is impossible? The Republicans infer that they are going to reduce taxes while they reduce the deficit, they are going to cut spending while they create jobs and they are going to resolve all of the problems … all without any clue how as they are just using clichés to perpetuate a con. Common sense tells us that those things can’t all be achieved quickly and at the same time, so common sense also is saying that they are just telling the lies they think will manipulate public opinion. They constantly just fault Obama, who didn’t cause the problems and who is actually aggressively addressing the problems while they refuse to help, and they never have any answers, only just bold and arrogant efforts to disguise a return to more of the same that got us the problems. As the warning goes, be skeptical of those promising only positives and put more trust in those who tell the truth, even when identifying some negatives. We really can’t afford to be conned into going back to ‘more of the same’.

    July 1, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Sarah, the baby seal basher

    Yes the John Birchers can crawl back into their closets now that they have all the five year old adults looking under their beds for monsters.

    July 1, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I hope he's wrong. The longer these simpletons make noise, the better it will be for the Democrats!

    July 1, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. doug

    History will show you as a weak misguided person who didn't do his job of stopping Obama from destroying America.

    The tea party Americans are the best people in this country. No one is more honest, fair, kind, and thoughtful as they are.

    July 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Shucks

    It will absolutely die out as THE MAJORITY of Americans know what the real idealogy behind the tea party is and it isn't pretty. Americans do not want to be led down a path of deciet and blatant racism.

    July 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Watch the Tea Klux Klan try to take him out now – despite his location in the heart of the Neo-Confederate South.

    The Tea Party is a group of people too ashamed to admit to being Republican or too annoyed with the party leadership which is hook-line-sinker in the pocket of their Big $ Lobbyist Masters.

    July 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. SH in Seattle

    "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,"

    Sounds like the Republican party.

    July 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. w l jones

    When i serverd in the military we had NCOs and Officers not colored nor white.

    July 1, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Tom from Canonsburg

    It's truely amazing that anyone that is not an extreme conservative is a liberal or a democrat in some of your eyes. The studies have shown that even Reagan would not have been conservative enough for today's standards. This is how the Nazi's & Soviet's thought. **If you don't think like me, you're wrong.** What ever happened to the Founder's way of thinking. Each to find their own pursuit of happiness and freedom of expression. Isn't that what America is about? Everyday I read pieces by supposed patriots who don't have a clue about this experiment called democracy.

    July 1, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Marcus

    'Get A Grip – July 1st, 2010 12:30 pm ET
    Lindsey Graham just needs to admit he's a Democrat.....something we all know.'

    So because he criticises the Tea Party he became a Democrat?
    HE? He, of all people, HE?
    Get your pills straight man, you're starting to get delusional...

    July 1, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. chad

    sorry, but your party is the tea party now. the line between the gop and the tea party is nonexistant.

    July 1, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Bill

    Beware Mr. Graham. I have been a card carrying Republican for my whole life and I can tell you I relate a lot more to the "tea party" than the Republican party. I am sick and tired of rhetoric and disrespect of the americans in the Tea party. Maybe they will fade but I tell you this I will most likely vote for whoever they support. Take heed.

    July 1, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    How can something that is NOT alive die?
    I love to see those teabaggers with their stupid little hats think they are important trying to take their country back!!
    Idiots all!

    July 1, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Mikey

    The question is will the Tea Party fade away or will the movement end when some horrible violent act committed by one or more of its members makes it politically and morally unsupportable?

    Anger, hate and disrespect rarely lead to positive results.

    July 1, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. MSH, Miami, FL

    OMG! A reasonable comment from a Republican. Surely that's a sign of the apocalypse....

    July 1, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Paul H

    Hmmm, maybe he's right, but this Tea Party has delivered a nice punch in the mouth in it's current state, while the coffee party movement that was supposed to be the counter punch has barely made a small splash in the water.
    These people can keep talking, and grasping, but the proof is in the doing, and the acting. Mr. Lindsey Graham is one of the talkers.

    July 1, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. sonny

    You are correct. These fractured movements operate by loose canons and ignorant bunches often raves and rants to appease their followers will fade away very quickly. This is not a rocket science.

    July 1, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. C Patel

    Graham is one of the few good Republicans around.

    July 1, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Debbie

    The tea party will die out. Third parties cannot thrive in our political system. The only third party "type" (not official party) (and that's a stretch) are those registered as independents and allowed to vote and caucus with both Dems/Rep.

    July 1, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. yellow dog n tn

    reading the teagrumpers words are amazing .reagan was a filure as a human being and a failure as our president. yes i agree with mitch -the teagrumpers will be no more once the black president is out of office -its all about being a black person as head of this country -racists came out of the woodwork and thos racists are the republicangrumpers.

    July 1, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. vet in tx

    "They're what we thought they were" – Denny Greene

    July 1, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. mike

    Lindsey Graham is not a REP what a joke he is to people of SC. Hope they vote him out.

    July 1, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious Senator. Its too bad most rethuglicans are believing their own lies and/or are too afraid to go against their party's destructive path. In the real world called reality the tea party movement is a capatilist oppurtunity. Eveyone is making money of the crazy tea baggers and their so dumb to not see that lol. Keep up the good work tea baggers on destroying the GOP. Hopefully the good republicans (which is few probably 5 reasonable ones) will make their own party. I would love to see a Libertarian party and Ron Paul as their leader.

    July 1, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Stacey

    LOL! I never thought the tea baggers were anybody to contend with in the first place. It's pretty hard to take some folks seriously when they are marching around with those stupid signs with the racist slogans and the weirdo stuff that comes out of their mouths.

    July 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. James M. Holmes

    Ya, the Tea Party will die out due to it's own ignorance (remember these are the people who think Glenn Beck makes sense) – but Graham and the rest of the GOP carter to them still?

    Sorry Lindsey, but you and the rest of your dying party are now under the control of your own Frankenstein and it's damaging America even more.

    July 1, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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