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. Anonymous

    Lindsey Graham is the only Republican I firmly believe outside of Governor Mitch Daniels that can unseat Obama in 2012. You know I'm right

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

    The T party is no party at all.. Its a gripe about things like people always do in some cases.. They offer nothing but their loud voices..But no solutions....Jobs.. they do not have a job for you ..Nor do the republicans.. Jus like t the Great Depression.. just balance the budget like the Republicans last did in 1930..see historynet.com..

    July 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Peter s

    Nail on the head Graham!! any tea bagger with a high school certificate stand up!!!!! thank you ladies and gentlemen you can now all sit down. I have seen you all have fullfilled the education and legal requirements of being a tea bagger!!

    July 1, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Senator Graham seems to miss the mark on many issues. I wonder if he is a one term senator. People are extremely tired of all the problems facing the country mostly invented by the Liberals. A thirteen trillion dollar debt and high enployment at the top of the list.

    We had a senator here that enspouced the liberal causes. Max Cleland. The people of Georgia voted him out. Maybe Senator Graham need to look at the big picture.

    July 1, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Dave

    Let's see, who is out of step with who:

    Sen. Grahamnesty supports:

    1) Climate change Tax
    2) Amnesty for illegal aliens who will vote Dem when legal
    3) Closing Gitmo that even the President and Dems dont want anymore

    All of the above are not part of Republican or Tea Party platform.

    All ARE a part of extreme leftist Democrats platforms.

    You do the math on which party and which way this Senator leans.... its not to the RIGHT however.

    July 1, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. J-STIZZLE ( OAKLAND , CALIF. )

    I agree with the Senator. Its just a matter of town. The Tea Party came in fast , and will go out fast.

    July 1, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. J-STIZZLE ( OAKLAND , CALIF. )

    I agree with the Senator. Its just a matter of time. The Tea Party came in fast , and will go out fast.

    July 1, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. MatthewDetroit

    Graham is turning into a major moderate like John McCain.
    he needs to resign and or we need to get a new Senator down there.

    He is starting to turn into a Barack backer and is going liberal.

    July 1, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Stan

    I'll betcha Mr. Lindsey Graham will regret those comments come his next election bid! I'd bet dollars to donuts he'll swear he didn't say that then. People who don't believe the Tea Party is having an effect on elections are snoozing during the game or haven't watched any nominations or elections the past 6-months...

    July 1, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. ST

    The Tea Party is neither good at all to the nation nor to GOP. They way they don't share their vision with GOP now, it will be the same way in the House/Senate, in case some are elected. It will be totally chaotic! The Movement better die quickly now before it is too late!

    July 1, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. MatthewDetroit

    Lindsay Graham is way off base.

    The tea party is a movement, they never described themselves as a party. They are in search of conservative politicians that believe in liberty and smaller goverment.

    Graham in his support of Immigrant Amnesty, Cap n Trade, etc... proves he is a moderate and moving farther left.

    IT is very important the people of South Carolina recognize this man as the moderate he is and get rid of him now. He is a politician that is moving left and going after that moderate vote.
    TIME FOR GRAHAM to GO. He needs to be put out of office when his term is up.
    He does not represent his contituents at all.

    July 1, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Matt

    The Tea Party is just group of people that want our government to take responsibility for their spending and actions–less spending, less unsustainable government programs, less taxes....

    Lindsey is all over the place and figures that the movement won't want his big government ideas in a couple years.

    July 1, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Rich

    Notice how they no longer hold any "teabag" rallies. Only 30 people showed up to the last one months ago. Fox had to do extreme tight shots to avoid showing the complete lack of attendees.

    The teabag movement is dead.

    July 1, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Darth Vadik, CA

    Tea Party, Ron Paul, Minute Men, Ross Perot....

    ....always a new fad that 10% of the population seems to fall behind....

    July 1, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Tina, NC

    Neither the tea party nor the Republican (which is the same thing, btw. Who do they think they're kidding?) have a vision for our future. Graham seems to be the only one even trying to act like he wants to do anything besides say no and that's just on immigration.

    The only solution I've heard from the tea party is to take their country back. Then what? Do what you did for the last 8 yrs before Obama. If the tea party people think electing these nuts is going to change the Republican party they are fools. Look what happened not 24 hrs after Angle and Paul won their primaries. The GOP leaders got a hold of them and shut them up because they are smart enough to know that most Independents and even many Republicans can not go along with such outlandish things as abolishing Social Security or standing against parts of the Civil Rights Act.

    And, he's right about Reagan getting elected as a Republican. It would never happen in todays climate where the crazier you are the more the tea party people love you.

    July 1, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Bob in PA

    A vision without career liars like you is what we have.
    Get Term Limits going Lindsay and the Tea Party might disappear. There would be so fewer politicians to despise.

    July 1, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Texas Doc

    Tea Baggers Untie!

    July 1, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. SuperHiro

    He's right. It's not like this Tea Party has any viable ideas to fix any of the problems they're whining about. They're just throwing the biggest, most inconsistant tantrum ever. "I don't wanna pay taxes!!!, but hands off my Medicare!!!" Morons.

    July 1, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Marky B

    For once he is right. How can the Tea Party continue to exist when it's name is so hypocritical. The Tea in Tea Party stood for "taxed enough already"...YET in 2009 tax rates where the lowest in 50 years and most of us got a tax BREAK. That is a fact! So, what is their platform?

    July 1, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Brad

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

    Hahahaha. That's the problem with republicans in general!!

    July 1, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Johnny C (Los Angeles)

    Wow ... are these two statements diametrically opposed:

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

    2) "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."

    How can you welcome different viewpoints if you think that they will die out?

    I am not sure if this gent is up for re-election in this go around ... but if he is, he should be voted out. I am a Republican and have been since I started voting 30 years ago ... it is comments like these that are hurting both parties. Go ahead ... keep it up Dems and Repubs ... with voices like these representing us in the strongest nation on earth, no wonder there are efforts to break the two party stronghold.

    July 1, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Dennis Baehr

    Way to go Sen. Graham. The tea party people complain about everything but do not offer constructive, realistic , alternative solutions. We need Republicans like Sen. Graham to look at the big picture and work for sensible ways to deal with our national issues.

    July 1, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. april

    well, there will always be morons who think that their way is the only RIGHT way. but hopefully they will eventually take off the stupid hats, and quit publically longing for days that were filled with slavery, poverty and disease. the senator is absolutely right, the only way this country can survive is if we all learn to live together and value each other. that's what the founding fathers envisioned, not a bunch of judgmental close-minded yahoos telling everyone who disagrees with them to shut up.

    July 1, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. John Tighe

    The Tea Party can't survive without the GOBP, yet it will wind up killing it.

    July 1, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Shrill Baby Shrill

    Once a middle aged white guy is elected President again, the teaparty will be history.

    July 1, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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