October 13th, 2009
01:35 PM ET
12 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. sandy

    "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."

    To late, you already are!

    October 13, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Jim

    Although I don't agree with him on policy, Sen Graham is one of the few Republicans who understands that the party is shooting itself in the foot by just saying no.

    October 13, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Troy Peterson

    NICE!... go Mr. Graham!

    I tell ya... this guy has some stones... confronting an angry mob of Libertarians and Tea Baggers. Crazy Wing Nuts with Guns is not normally the type of crowd you want to rile up 🙂

    October 13, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Rayman

    Too late for that... you are a bunch of angry old white men

    October 13, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. http://twitter.com/whybs

    Lindsey,

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

    You are right – the GOP has always been the party of angry white guys, especially since 11/5/08! And it shows!

    And your comment on the "don't ask; don't tell" policy... you are right - you should not make 'don't ask; don't tell' policy based on a campaign rally, but whether you've touched yourself! It's the true test of your character, hypocrisy; of the military folks; and those who wish to stuff their morality down others' throat.

    October 13, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Aviate

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

    Graham is right. The GOP can't be hijacked by Ron Paul. Rush, Beck, and Sarah Palin beat him to it.

    October 13, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. ab from MN

    It's funny that Graham says it. Does anyone else think he might be gay? I'm gay and the gaydar goes crazy around him.

    October 13, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Milo in Atlanta

    I know you hate Lou Dobbs as much as we do. How can you even work at CNN? Say something!!

    October 13, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. michael

    Sen Graham is right. Dont let them highjack the party.

    October 13, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. interesting

    The GOP has been perpetuating the extremism of its base. Now, the base is turning against the ones who aren't running around saying it's my way or no way. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    October 13, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Truth Teller

    Too late Lindsey, they already are. Have been for quite some time.

    October 13, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Cleaning up after W

    Huh, what do you know. A republican with half a brain and eye sight good enough to see the writing on the wall. Wonders never cease. The trick will be getting any of the party to come along with him. It's hard to move an elephant when they don't want to.

    October 13, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. kbruegg

    Its not a party of "angry white guys." Its a party of "angry white guys and Uncle Tom as its party leader".

    October 13, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Minnesotan

    And so it begins....

    The imploding of the GOP. At some point there will be a viable 3rd party. And it will be many years before they are able to muster up the votes to out-gun the moderate common sense thinkers that comprise most Independants, the Dems and the Centrist Repubs.

    Cuz most people don't vote for CRAZY!

    October 13, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. ray

    i dont agree with 99 percent of what the right wingers stands for, they are lots of racists in this party but i do agree with the senator. the republican party are nothing more than haters and immigrants haters, had the republicans had its way this country would all white and thats what they really wants even today.

    October 13, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. NM Jada

    OMG– a Republican with common sense. Too bad he's speaking to a pack of Neanderthals....

    October 13, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. A. Goodwin

    I'm no fan of Republican's, and I have NOT agreed with Lindsey Graham on much...but, he's right on this.

    Stop party politics and get things done in Washington!

    October 13, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Clive

    Too Late!!!!

    October 13, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Adelita

    Sorry Mr. Graham, the "angry white guys" are the majority of your party; you haven't got a chance. You actually sound fairly reasonable for a
    republican – maybe you can start that third party we so desperately need!

    October 13, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Fenarkleman

    Ron Paul is not an angry white guy, either. Guess these far right-wing tea-baggers will need to dig up the bones of Joseph McCarthy to find the standard-bearer that they miss so much. And they'll have to re-inflate is liver, too.

    October 13, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Perusing-through

    DEMOCRATS SHOULD BE NERVOUS ABOUT LINDSEY GRAHAM.

    S.C. Senator Graham is a true "compassionate conservative" but with the fight of a George Wallace and Nelson Rockefeller combined. Although Republican extremist cannot immediately see it, Graham is the best antidote to Barack Obama's presidency. Graham is politically strong, articulate, thoughtful, independent minded, and a staunch "family-values" GOP conservative (unlike Nevada Sen. John Ensign, or Louisiana Sen. David Vitter).

    GO LINDSEY, GO!

    October 13, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. landshark

    He's right! It has that one angry black man!

    October 13, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Ally Schultz

    Hallelujah!

    October 13, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. a hanson

    Too late, Lindsay. You already are and have been for the past forty years!

    October 13, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Dex Houston TX

    Stand you ground Mr. Graham, STAND YOUR GROUND!

    God Bless you

    Houston TX

    October 13, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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