October 13th, 2009
01:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Graham: GOP 'not going to be the party of angry white guys'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/12/art.graham.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke at a town hall in South Carolina on Monday."](CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has always enjoyed a little back-and-forth with belligerent audiences.

He was at it again on Monday night as he faced down an angry town hall crowd in Greenville packed with libertarians and Tea Party activists who accused at the Republican senator of ditching conservative principles by working with Democrats on issues like climate change and voting to send Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

But Graham stressed a mantra he's repeated many times since his friend John McCain lost the presidential election last November - that the GOP must reach out to different constituencies, or face extinction.

"I'm not going to leave the Republican Party," Graham said when one questioned asked him why he hasn't yet joined the Democrats. "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."

His comments were met with a salvo of boos and shouts of "Ron Paul!"

"I love this party," he responded. "I'm not going to be let it be hijacked by Ron Paul."

Graham emphasized his conservative bona fides - particularly his record of opposing abortion rights and support of gun rights - but said GOP needs to build a broader coalition. Otherwise, he warned, those trying to purify the party will turn Congress over "to the most liberal people in the world because somebody disagrees with you."

"I'm going to find people in Maine, Delaware, Illinois and other places that can win," he said. "And I'm going to help them, and we're going to move this party and this country forward. If you don't like it, you can leave."

Filed under: Lindsey Graham • South Carolina
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Hypocrisy

    I respect people like Graham because at least he has the cajones to call out his party when it's wrong, but still stands true to his conservative values.

    October 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Lindsay Graham is starting to sound like a stand up guy....I guess. But Sen. Graham, the GOP has always been a party of angry white guys and will continue to be so unless the leadership of your party speaks out against Boss Limbaugh, Glen Beck and the rest of the right wing lunatics.

    October 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."


    October 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    He sure will have to bow down and kiss Limbaugh't feet for making those statements.


    October 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. pacaschera

    Graham: GOP 'not going to be the party of angry white guys'

    I think it's a little too late for that. Now the GOP is moving into adding "crazy" into that tag line.

    October 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    Its good that someone one the GOP finally grew a pair.

    October 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Alex

    It's far too late. The Republican party is already the party of angry white guys – it's been that way for a couple of decades now. At least that's the perception that I think most Americans, and definitely most of the world, have. If there are more Republicans like Graham who care more about equality and opportunity then discrimination and ignorance, then I'd like to hear their voice more. Unfortunately it's hard to hear these intelligent and moderate voices over all the angry Teabaggers and unconstitutional libertarians.

    October 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Former Republican

    Good for you Graham.

    The Republicans need to learn that while they enjoy a loyal base, they are polarized against the mainstream. The Democrats by contrast have much infighting and disagreement but a relatively coalesced base that fits into the mainstream.

    The Republicans will continue to be marginalized and further sink into irrelevance unless they embrace precisely what Graham espouses.

    Even though I disagree with you Graham, I applaud your openness; although your rebuke of Ron Paul tells me that even you still have a ways to go before you can welcome this former Republican back into the fold.

    October 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. DS

    When Lindsey Graham isn't conservative enough, whew! Thank you to Sen. Graham for having a big of a backbone with his own crazies.

    October 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Angus McDugan

    The issues is that the Repubs, like the Dems, should stand on their principals instead of chasing voters. That way the people elect the person most likely to represent them the way they want. Otherwise they elect someone trying to stay in office changing their stance every time a new poll comes out. This is why government is full of flip-flopping, self-serving professional politicians. We need our government filled with people of character and not a buch of popularity contestents.

    October 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. lila

    Good for him. If the Grand Old Party has any future it's people like Graham and Snow that will save it. Brave are they.

    October 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Doug

    Re-election time for Republicat's will be difficult. A conservative will take your place.

    October 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Wes B.

    I find it quite humorous that his statement "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys" was met with angry boos and shouts from the audience.

    What a bunch of dopes.

    So much for using reason, Senator.

    October 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Maurice from Ontario

    I lean toward the Democratic party. Having said that, there are a number of GOP senators and members of the House that have gained my respect. Sen. Lindsey Graham is one of those. He doesn't come across as one of those "always say 'no'" Republican sticks in the wheel. Graham listens carefully, gives his opinion respectfully, and moves forward with what emerges.

    October 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Crazy Harry

    The question is how are you going to make the angry white guys that have hijacked the republican party happy?

    They seem to enjoy enjoy living a life of hate and anger.

    It does give me hope that at least someone from the right has seen the light and is, at least in words willing to have an open mind.

    October 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. What Now?

    Unfortunately, Sen Graham, as long as your constiuents are angry white guys intent on spreading hate and fear policies, the Republican party is going the way of the dinosaur. You all do nothing to quell the absolute vile and sickening words coming out of people's mouths.

    When is someone in the Republican party going to set a line of integrity and stick to it – besides Sen. Snowe?? We always need good criticism, and people to make sure the balance of power is set... but lately all the repubs are good for is a side show circus freak act.

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."

    Too late! That mission has definitelly been accomplished. On the fringes of your Party, for a little added variety, you do have Totally Confused Morons from the state of Florida. Your tent is nothing but a teepee. The country at large looks at your Party and it's ever-changing leadership with disdain, embarrassment, and as inconsequential non-contributors in reagrds to the welfare of the country. RIP GOP.

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    Lindsey Graham is as conservative as can be. He has said there is global warming and we must have a cap and trade system to deal with carbon emissions. He agrees that gays should have equal rights. Just because he agrees with democrats on a couple of issues doesn't mean he's not conservative. Supporting Lindsey Graham is supporting climate change legislation and gay rights, that's all. That's the new conservative.

    Graham is fostering in a new era of bi-partisanship, just as Obama promised. Thank you LIndsey!

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Peejay

    Thank you, Senator Graham, for being one of the few voices of reason in your party, and I hope you are right about its future, for all our sakes. Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike: we elected you to govern, not to act like children.

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. What's is The Beef Republiklans?

    At least I give give credit to Senator Graham for admitting that the G"NO"P is a party of angry white guys.

    He is just not adding the other "core values" of the Republiklan party, that they are bigots, rascist, sexist and everything Un-American for advocating for the USA to fail!!!

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Ex-Repug

    Graham is grasping at straws. He is one of the angry white guys. Watch him on the Sunday news shows. Funny now that is core group is turning on him.

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. AustHall

    WOW, The Republican Party is mostly "angry white guys".

    No Kidding!!!!!!

    I think Sen Graham is a little late to prevent that from happening

    October 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. JN

    "not going to be a party of angry white guys"? He's right. They're the party of angry stupid greedy white guys".

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Lisa

    That's exactly what the American people have been saying all along. Anyone who thinks Bush was a great President, is a nut case.

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Tom in VA

    Finally someone is recognizing that it is the Libertarian's who are trying to make the Republician Party their party. I don't always agree with Lindsey Graham but he is correct that the party needs to be more inclusive and come up with more middle of the road ideas in order to move forward. Maybe a leader, other than Rush, would work also.

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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