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. ken

    Just as Freedom and LIberty have died out over time, the liberals are hopeful that other remnants of the past can also be crushed.

    July 1, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Kevin Collins

    Well said, Graham - one of the few GOPers who's not an extremist. And how can anyone take TPers seriously when they cherish Sarah Palin who was for the taxpayer-wasteland The Bridge to Nowhere before it became a political liability, and whose Alaska is the biggest welfare state in the nation with more federally-funded pork barrel projects per-capita than any other U.S. state. Like Palin, the TPers have absolutely no substance and substitute sensationalism for coherence.

    July 1, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. sifto

    twin to Arlen Spector

    July 1, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Is this the only guy in SC with even a scintilla of sense? Sure, he says some crazy crap sometimes...but once in a while he talks some semblence of sense and he's on the money with this. Nobody in their right mind thinks the Tealiban is going to last until 2012 with as much free publicity and press as they get right now. And they certainly won't last if the GOP takes over a house of Congress before then because the GOP will suddenly be opposed to their rabble-rousing at that point.

    July 1, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Ted

    Wow. I was wondering when the mainline GOP was going to wake up and figure this out. The TEA partiers are a very ignorant bunch of rightwingwackjobs, but I hope they sway the GOP faithful to vote Democrat in the Fall. I bet they will.

    July 1, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Wisconsinite - the GObP Loves Big Oil, But Hates Suffering Americans

    @Mitch July 1st, 2010 12:31 pm ET

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

    Could NOT agree more!

    July 1, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. Duck Fallas

    He has a very nice hair cut.

    July 1, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. christi

    Sorry Eti "Doofus", there is no comparison between Tea Baggers and our Founding Fathers. Our Founding Fathers were actually foward thinkers-not like the Tea Baggers who whine about high taxes when in reality our taxes are lower right now than they have been in approximately 40 years. And Graham did not say our Founding Fathers were "unsustainable" as you put it. Perhaps you should take a comprehensive reading course so that you don't skip over the major point in the article.

    July 1, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Uh oh...they're getting the woodpile ready and the stake set up Lindsey...you've just been brandeed a heretic and will now be subject to the "if you're not with us, you're against us" immolation of the narrow-minded and myopic malcontents your party helped agitate.

    July 1, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Mesa Mick

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

    Graham cracker isn't just talking about the teabaggers here – It's the entire GO(b)P he's talkin' about!

    As long as the GO(b0P embraces obstructionism in the congress, evangelicals, teabaggers, the John Birch society and Sister Sarah they will continue to be labels as nut jobs....

    July 1, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Jim

    Do not belittle the Tea Party. While I abhor what they stand for, they have a lot of momentum. They might have only won a couple of primaries, but they are still gaining steam in the Political arena. They are not dying out, but instead are gaining yet more momentum. Once one of their candidates wins a general election, they will really start to gather steam. A few years ago, several Republican leaders made the mistake of saying the Democratic party was dead. Don't make the same mistake they made.

    As for Graham, he's no RINO. I think he just wants the ridiculous incivility to end, and the return to governance. And that, while I am a Democrat, is something I can support.

    July 1, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Wisconsinite - the GObP Loves Big Oil, But Hates Suffering Americans

    @SLP – it's obvious by your inane comments on the ticker everyday that you know absolutely NOTHING about politics. To call Graham a "progressive" is simply idiotic. To call President Obama a "progressive" is just plain stupid. Graham IS a conservative, but he seems to be (somewhat) sane unlike all of the Rabid Right conservatives. President Obama is a centerist Democrat. Try picking up a book and reading it once in awhile and turn off Beck, Hannity & Limpballs.

    July 1, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. rs

    They aren't sustainable because there are that many crazies in America. Unfortunately, they may take the Republican Party down with them as they lack vision as well.

    With luck, when the TP dies out so will the popularity of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin , Hannity, et al.

    July 1, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Chris Kuhnen

    Tea Party supporters will not completely die out, until the Founding Fathers vision and dream for America dies out. Tea Party supporters are not disgrunted Republicans or Democrats or Independents. They are common, everyday, hard working, middle class Americans (of all races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, etc.) who are tired of watching their duly elected representatives neglect, abuse, scorn and degrade the responsibilites and duties of their elected office. Whatever happened to: Common Sense? Compromise? Jobs for all Americans who want one? Affordable Healthcare? Reasonable taxes on the Middle Class? Pride in self and country? I believe there is one human being alive in America today, who has the best qualities, abilities and vision of former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton combined. The time for that individual (male or female) to step forward and serve their country is NOW!

    July 1, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. Former Republican

    I left the GOP because there were not more leaders like Sen Graham in the party. Fanatics yes, leaders no!

    July 1, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Corey Gabriel

    The diatribes people post here are absolutely amazing. More division and polarization. The extreme right and left, and most specifically the far right nut jobs (tea baggers, birthers, Palinistas, Limburgers, Beckians, etc) are just plain uncivil and ill-informed, and worse, they are not swayed by history or facts, just their own propaganda and BS. Hopefully the Country will get through this non-sense.

    July 1, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Lucullus

    "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,"

    ________________________________________________________

    The same thing can be said for the Republican Party Lindsey. Wait, that's not true. The Republican party's idea of governing is to open up the treasure to their corporate friends and to bankrupt the rest of us.

    By the way Lindsey, I can't help to notice how, as John Stewart said, Southern you are, really, really southern

    July 1, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. ETM

    The teabaggers are, for the most part, a collection of hypocritical whiners who favor their own benefits and condemn everyone's else's, and otherwise articulate crackpot notions of law and policy. Whether or not they last a while, their incoherence will do the country no good.

    July 1, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Billy J in Texas

    Fox and Rush have a mighty pulpit, but even it won't keep the loons in office for ever. Some ... yes... but not enough for a true conservative majority again. The Republicans have strayed so far off, they just can't get themselves back in power any time soon. Between crooks, hypocrisy, and just plain crazy... they just don't have it going on right now. And we NEED a good reliable conservative party. That is what the biggest shame of it all is. Our country needs good solid debates and governance, not the 'show' we have now.

    July 1, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. JonDie

    "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,"

    Although I'm not a conservative, it's comforting to know that, at least, one conservative recognizes that the Tea Party is essentially an anarchist movement which will lead the country into total chaos and collapse.

    July 1, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Grog in Ohio

    Forgive me if I celebrate the Tea Baggers pushing the Republican Party so far right that it will end up as a mere sliver of the American electorate. I'm hoping that as a remnant party that small doses of them won't wreck the nation like it did from 2001 – 2008.

    July 1, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Donald

    So graham a rino huh? i thought the teaparty was a mix of all parties, lol. the teaparty is full of sh!t. They hate the fact theres a black man in the WH period. oh yea are we a communist/socialist country yet lol.

    July 1, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. Peter

    Good call Lindsay. The Tea people have not proposed one policy that the general populace would find acceptable and it is the general populace that votes not solely the ultra right wing conservatives. Their recurring mantra of "Take back our country" is easily disposed of by simply asking them from where to where? They have no answer.

    July 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. FM

    Sen. Graham is a very experienced politician. He has sincerely devoted his time doing what is essential for the nation. He understands well Tea Party without any leader, can't deliver concrete results. The movement has a fight of words and not the deeds!

    July 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. shawn

    Those Teabags are just totally nuts! I have never seen a more goofy and deranged bunch of freaks in my life.

    July 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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