May 17th, 2009
10:50 AM ET
12 years ago

Lindsey Graham gets combative over GOP future

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke at the South Carolina Republican convention on Saturday."](CNN) - A combative Lindsey Graham got into a sharp back-and-forth with some audience members at the South Carolina GOP convention on Saturday as he made the case for an open-tent Republican party.

According to The State newspaper and video posted on YouTube, the South Carolina senator told the convention he wants to build a party that can compete in Pennsylvania and Connecticut as well as in his home state.

“You’re a hypocrite!,” one man in the audience yelled.

“I’m a winner, pal,” Graham retorted. Moments later, after saying he wants to the party to reach out to independent voters, he said: “Winning matters to me. If it doesn’t matter to you, there’s the exit sign.”

The crowd in Columbia also featured some Ron Paul supporters who offered several libertarian resolutions during the convention that were rejected by the state party.

During his speech, Graham told the audience, "Ron Paul is not the leader of this party." That remark drew a few jeers, with several people yelling, "Yes he is!"

“I’m not going to give this party over to people who can’t win,” Graham responded.

Filed under: Lindsey Graham • Ron Paul • South Carolina
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. tee

    Is he in the closet?

    May 17, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Steven in Charleston

    I was raised in a Republican household, and I was taught to believe that the GOPs values were the same as our family's values - strong national defense, limited government, strong individual liberties, and giving people a leg up instead of a hand out.

    Where did that party go?

    They still talk the talk but rarely walk the walk.

    Strong National Defense: you don't strengthen our defense by wasting resources on a war that didn't need to be fought while ignoring one that does.

    Limited Government: we know that has been an abject failure, and that the GOP is as guilty as the Democrats in this regard;

    Strong Individual Liberties: you can't say you believe in individual rights, then inject your will into what a woman can do with her body or by forbiding gay couples to get married;

    Leg Up/Hand Out: The GOP has been really good at saying "no" to handouts (unless they are for massive corporations) but always seem to forget to say "yes" to anything providing a leg-up, such as SBA funding, improving our schools, increasing the minimum wage, or providing assistance with daycare so poor Moms can work.

    I am not a big fan of Lindsey Graham, but he is right to believe that if the bible-thumping evangelicals and greed-happy capitalists are allowed to retain control of the party they hijacked, then the GOP is doomed to irrelevance.

    May 17, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. John SD

    Find yourself a new line of work because your not doing the decomposing GOP any good.

    May 17, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. skh.pcola

    Lindsey Graham couldn't be a winner in a national election and with his unwavering support of lame John McCain, it is unlikely that Graham knows what it takes to win on a national scale. The GOP has self-selected figureheads who have lost touch with the conservative base and have moved the party plank to thee left of center. Good riddance to trash like Graham and McCain.

    May 17, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    what a wooosie

    he like Gingrich ( Darth vader) and Cheney (Emperor of the Dark side),
    Rush (Jaba the Hut)
    just can't figure it out the more they threaten and lie the lower they go . soon it will be all over ,and peace will come to the land we love .

    and out of the mouth of MR we can cross the party lines and work things out ( he will not turn the party over to loosers) buddy you are the party of loosers. people like Ron Paul could be the new republican party . just facts and no bull.

    May 17, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Ken Miller

    “I’m not going to give this party over to people who can’t win,” Graham responded. That is why he supported John McCain for president, he doesn't support losers. Just another failed lawyer. Time for the pubbies to become radical again, not complacent.

    May 17, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. Republicans are the American Taliban

    “I’m not going to give this party over to people who can’t win,” Graham responded

    Can Fox News and the media hate mongers win?; because you've given your party over to them. And don't forget the teabaggers and toe tappers. Oxymoron Rush owns you pal ....

    May 17, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |

    How do define "suicide mission"?

    Try talking logically with Dixie-cons and idiot-ogical neocon purists about working to expand the GOP to include those who are not blond haired and blue eyed. In case you haven't noticed Sen. Graham, the GOP doesn't want to be a relevant political party if it can't "dicatate" morality, patriotism, religion and who we should invade next to "spread freedom and democracy"....

    May 17, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. lulu

    Sen. Graham, you don't have to tell us that all you people care about is "winning." That is quite appropriate for people of small intelligence. They still think this is all just a football game..very very sad!

    May 17, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Joe the Troll

    He is a hypocrite. He asked Obama to veto the budget because of earmarks, but publicly announced that the earmarks that HE had put in would be added to the replacement budget. That's hypocrisy, pure and simple.

    May 17, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Andi

    Ahhhh,, the GOP, now the party of 'winners'......

    May 17, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Keith Pollard

    The one point that Senator Graham is correct on and that is the GOP as long as they are the all white party, will never win enough elections to control congress again. I have always voted for the republican candidate until the practical thing Obama decided to run for office. The republican party only has room for non reading, uneducated, dumb down citizen.

    May 17, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. JayPA

    This man is one of the most depressing excuses for a senator; political expediency is truly all that matters to him, as he made quite clear by the statements offered here. South Carolina must be an intriguing place, to elect someone like this.

    May 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  14. Sharon

    It's interesting that the GOP is no longer about issues so much as it is about winning. Ego should be the last thing that drives a party. Mr. Graham will soon find his ego dumps him out on his ear, I bet. Or at least, I hope.

    May 17, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Larry from RI

    “I’m not going to give this party over to people who can’t win,” Graham responded.

    Um, you already did!

    May 17, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Ruty

    Poor Mr Graham needs a rest. May be he needs a wife. Sounds very frustated to me.

    May 17, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  17. American Libertarian

    It's intersting to see the comments of the leftists and statists here.

    My god you people hate the GOP, Rush and Fox. FoxNews to you is like light to a vampire, I guess. After 30 years of all news originating from one viewpoint (and few blocks in New York, for that matter) having a second viewpoint just terrifies you, doesn't it.

    And slowly it's having the same effect as light on a vampire: it is disolving America's hypnosis by the blood-sucking left and revealing you as fascists and totalitarian for whom no amount of social control is ever enough. Smoking bans, light-bulb regulations, CO2 controls based on hysterics, hate-crime laws, gun control....

    I take solace in the fact that no matter what internal problems the GOP has at least we haven't become a characature of ourselves unable to offer any critique tha rises about playground level. "Hate Mongers"? Have you looked in the mirror lately?

    May 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Pragmatic

    The Senator has a point. As long as the radical far, far right continue to "purge" the party to make it "pure" they will never get enough votes to put their failed policies into action.

    The GOP talks about winning but never about governing: after the last 8 years, we can all see why.

    May 17, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    A winner in South Carolina with a name like a girl is not necessarily (or even probably) a winner anywhere else.

    May 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Tulsa L

    Not going to give the party over to people who can't win? You already have with the likes of Cheney, Limbaugh, Palin, Gindrich, they are losers and until someone has the guts to tell them to shut up they will never get this party back on track

    May 17, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Tanja Carroll

    So, now it's about winning? Personal gain? Power? Fame & Fortune?

    What happened to serving the American people?

    May 17, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Chris from ABQ

    Steven in Charleston hit the nail right on the head; perfect comment. I, too was raised republican but find it difficult to believe in a party that is so resistant to change.

    The original core republican values are very important to me, but the Democrats are currently the better choice in hundreds of ways.

    And, honestly, I think the GOP would do well to consider some libertarian planks in its platform.

    Sorry, GOP, you've got a long way to go!

    May 17, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    He looks like a wimp.

    May 17, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Chris in CA

    I just love watching the Republicans flop around like a fish out of water. We DO need at least a two party system but when one of them is so dysfunctional its time throw it back before it starts to rot and ruin the rest of the healthy catch.

    May 17, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. Rickymo

    Not a fan of the GOP or Graham but until the party distances itself from right wing loons it will always have trouble.

    May 17, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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