July 1st, 2010
12:23 PM ET
8 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. Cody

    They have a vision. It's called "me first and the heck with everyone else". That is the at the root of what is dragging America down. Nobody owes anything to their country or has any responsiblty, they just have inalienable and unending rights.

    July 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Colorado Liberal

    Both the Republican Party and the Teabag movements are irrelevant and unsustainable in just about every respect. However, if they are sincerely against all of those bailouts which seem to fatten executive salaries, I would agree with them.

    But I will never forget who was in charge from 2001-2009; that legacy will haunt us for a long time.

    July 1, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. BobH

    One of only a handful of intelligent Republicans left. Very sad.

    July 1, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. GuyinVA

    So, no clear vision for governing the country means a party will die out? If that's the case, how do we have any existing political parties now?

    July 1, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. Hendrik

    The Republicans, including Graham, love the Tea Party to get Republicans elected. Then the Republicans will throw the Tea Baggers right out the door. They are using these tea baggers to do their dirty work. They did the same for the rabid religious right. Where are those clowns now? Oh, I am sorry, they are the tea baggers. Tea Baggers are uneducated bigots while Republicans are just plain nasty people.

    July 1, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. carolyn

    There is or should be nothing written in blood that you have to support every single thing either party espouses for the sake of belonging to it. It's also the kind of tolalitarian thinking that gave rise to the Nazi's. Graham and other Republicans are literally being threatened think "the right" way or suffer the consequences. That ought to PO a normal thinking person. Tea Partiers are dangerous people; many of them claim to be Christians; how can that be when they abrogate free will.

    July 1, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. stormy miller

    there needs to be more republicans like graham. he is one smart guy in a group of stupid fools.

    July 1, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. barbara

    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 very much like both the Republican and Democrat parties. Look the only reason why SC voted for this man was because we are a very very patritic bunch down here and we like where he stands on the military . He wont be voted in again, however, because he is being seen, more and more, like a RINO and because hes not the conservative that this state wants. We elected Tim Scott. Why? Because hes CONSERVATIVE!, we elected Nikki. Why? Cuase shes CONSERVATIVE! Get a clue Graham or get lost.

    July 1, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. militant progressive

    I live in SC and Lindsey Graham is the only part of SC politics that I'm not ashamed of. He's right, the tea party is a sham.

    July 1, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Dave Harris

    It seems like anyone who actually tries to solve problems, instead of screaming and trying to exploit them, is the enemy of the 'Tea Party'. Their only unifying theme seems to be racist hatred of Obama. The other issues are just a diversion. If Republicans ever do manage to get re-elected, all of this fear and hatred of the government will magically vanish.

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Hendrik

    Read these posts by these Tea Baggers who consider Graham a RINO. This idiocy is what you will get if you let the Repukes take over in November. This is scary stuff.

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. Amy

    I wonder if all these people claiming RINO have actually looked at Senator Graham's voting record. Probably not, because it would contradict their claims.

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Thanh

    Ideology can never run this country. History has shown that countries that end up running themselves on ideology eventually degenerate into dictatorships.

    What really drives this country is pure and simple; the bottom-line. It's money. If you have money, it enables things for you. So, if you can't make money, then there's a problem.

    The Tea Party is a mishmash alliance of special interest ideologies, hate, and anger. Their views have financial conflicts. OK they want jobs. How? Cut taxes so business will start hiring. That's a laugh. Businesses have been running lean for the last two years. Meanwhile, there's no real growth. What makes them think that they'll hire more people for a job that they're handling fine, with the current staff. Then let's talk about immigration. What do they want? They want to throw out the illegals and build a wall to keep them out. Who's going to pay for it? They already cut taxes to foster jobs. Keep in mind they also want tax cuts for the average American, too. So where do we get the cash. We have to borrow from China. But the Tea Party is opposed to that, too.

    Hey wait, that would mean it's, that's right, unsustainable. The Tea Party is largely made up of individuals with no foreign policy, business, or political acumen. Just a bunch of ideas, glued together with hate and rage.

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Dave

    The Tea Party will soon die of old age and obesity. I've seen the crowds...

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Larry

    Likewise with immigration reform, the reason the ultra right nutjobs struggle with it is because it's primarily Hispanic (Mexican) in nature. Once again, basically racist. Oh, they'll come up with a hundred different anecdotes (taxes, crime, taking jobs away, etc.), but hereagain, it boils down to racism. And the pitiful part of it is, I don't think most of them even realize it.

    July 1, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Hendrik

    @ Ron,

    You seem to confuse being a STRONG CONSERVATIVE with being a STRONG HATEFUL RAT.

    July 1, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Jasz

    I agree and pray that this tea party dies. But with their constant yells of "Lets take our country back" and looking to Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh as leaders, it clear their vision for governing the country would be more like how Hugo Chevez's govern's Venezuela

    July 1, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Future expat

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

    Welcoming viewpoints other than your own? Isn't that grounds for excommunication in today's absolutist, draconian GOP?

    July 1, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Rickster

    Hopefully they won't die out before they help to get rid of this RINO pansy.

    July 1, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country,"

    The key word here is COHERENT. He said it, not me. They cannot come up with a COHERENT vision. And that is why we call you guys whacko, lunatic, nutjobs stuffed full of Glen Beck misinformation.

    If representatives from the Party that you support -the Republicans- are calling you INCOHERENT to your face in front of the press, can you imagine what words they are using to describe you BEHIND YOUR BACKS?! I shudder to think it!

    Scary ain't teablabbers? So now, whose your daddy?!

    July 1, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Sharon

    no, the tea-partiers will not die out. We have just woken up! to so-called Republicans like you, Sen Graham! that is why this country is in trouble! we tried to smoosh the other side and we almost became the other side! we are taking a stand and you will see the results of it in Novemeber!!
    oh, by the way, we are not uprising because of a "black" president.
    we don;t like his white half either!!

    July 1, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Robert

    Lindsey Graham is absolutely right in that Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected but gets the reason wrong. People like Graham would be talking about how harsh and controversial Reagan's message is and how his vision is unsustainable.

    And we see the result of The Progressive/Liberal Ideology spread out across the world as countries and states go crash and boom from the weight of failed ideas yet again.

    Whose obsessed with skin color The Person who is talking about debts, deficits, and over spending or the person who assumes that the real reason they are talking about that kind of stuff is because of a man's skin color..

    Funny theres a time limit on when you can become concerned about the country ? So if you weren't paying attention to it 3 years ago your concern now doesn't matter ?

    July 1, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Uncle Sam

    The movement toward actual conservative thinking will not die. Look at all the polling data, more and more Americans view are conservative rather than liberal...they just have a hard time seeing differences in the party.

    July 1, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Jim in San Mateo

    These "strong" conservatives need to spend less time in the gym and start lifting books instead and get some intelligence.

    July 1, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Bobby in Atlanta

    He's the second Republican senator to speak out about the condition of the Republican party. Yesterday it was Bennett and today its Graham. They see the storm coming.

    July 1, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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