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)

    What is wrong with you republican politicians. Do you only watch NBC, who's side are you on. I am not an angry white person (nor is anyone else I know), I disagree with the liberal agenda... THAT IS WHY I HAVE BEEN REPUBLICAN....NOW TURNED INDEPEDENT.

    October 13, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. cnn=right wing media and works for sarah "death pannel" palin

    i like this fool

    October 13, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Milligee

    It already is!

    October 13, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Carmen, Miami FL

    The GOP is already the party of angry white guys, and that seems to be the way they like it. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for everyone else) the country is passing them by. They're dinosaurs.

    October 13, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    Something tells me the audience was mostly angry white guys, booing. 🙂

    October 13, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. R.B.

    The first real talk I've heard from a Republican in years. Senator Graham's opiniont sounds like reason in the face of cynical, nonsensical, fringe-led adversity. The GOP needs to speak more reason and less misinformation. If not, eventually, no one will believe them, even when they're right. Town hall meetings of "angry (and usually older) white people" do not define all of America. We need more voices of reason and moderation in politics. The American people are starting to realize that with all this arguing -ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – is being done for the sake of the country at a crucial point in history. Empty hands are empty hands. Party affiliation doesn't matter much at that point. Olympia Snow and Lindsey Graham said it best.. Will others in Washington listen? The GOP and DEMs should work together on issues to help the rest of us. The majority of hard-working Americans don't much care about Washington poltics.

    October 13, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Agree

    I totally agree with him. I am a conservative democrat who votes for who I think will do the best job, not what party they are affiliated with. However with the socialistic administration that is in place ( which I did not vote for) I would think very seriously about voting for a republican candidate that was closer to my own views than the far left democrat radicals that are currently in the administration and congress.

    October 13, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. Alice Henne

    The Republican Party is already the party of big government, Senator Graham. It doesn't need more people like you who vote for increases in spending.

    October 13, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Independent_me

    I used to be a Republican and will never go there again... They have become a Party of hate and decision and they will destroy America because a house divided against itself cannot stand...and they thrive on division

    Having said that – I applaud Senator Graham because he clearly is one of the very LAST Republicans who truly loves this country, and not just his Party's ideology above all else.

    He is absolutely right. The Republican Party cannot expand beyond its hate-loving base if it continues to be the Party of lies, deceit and belligerence. They cannot survive on such a narrow base.

    October 13, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Jeff

    "GOP not going to be the party of angry white guys," says the angry white guy.

    October 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    Give him a little credit.

    BUT, don't let your daughter have an abortion. Force her to birth!! Strap her down if ncessary!

    AND, please, you can have all the guns you want, big fella, but make DANG sure the person it kills is someone you love and not someone I love!

    Kinda like that guy who recently shot his gun-totin' wife while she was online with another guy! Yep! Keep it in the family!

    October 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. Operation Replacement

    Graham's support of John McCain cost his party everything from
    the White House to the Senate & House. He'd do much good for
    his party by leaving it. If he thinks his party is too white, what is it
    doing with a National Chairman who is Afro-American, Michael

    October 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Sgt. USMC

    hahahahaha... it's a like a pack of hungry rats. they are starting to feed on each on other. I LOVE IT.

    October 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. John

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


    Good luck with that, Sen Graham.

    October 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. A-man

    Mr. Graham should just relax and enjoy his remaining (short) time in political office.

    I think he'll be great on Dancing with the Stars.

    October 13, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Fan of Common Sense

    Political parties are not supposed "to grow." They are supposed to stand for certain values and principles that are NEVER to be compromised just for the sake of winning votes. I would much rather be a member of a minority party that loses, than a party that wins, yet does not stand for anything but winning elections.

    I wish Graham would do the republican party a big favor and leave it. He is pro-criminal, pro-illegal alien, and pro-wreckless government spending. The repubican party needs to cleanse itself of politicians like him before it becomes watered-down to the point of being completely irrelevant.

    October 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Michael

    The party of Ron Paul may be more diverse than the modern day Republican Party. What Lindsey Graham is missing is that this country IS moving forward, unfortunately for the Republican party it is a move that doesn't favor them

    October 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Brad

    Ridiculous, out of touch, non-representative of the people. These are just a few words to describe Graham and the GOP of today. We have no two-party system; we have two sides of the same coin. The differences are minor if insignificant. With 40% of the country self-described as conservative, and a mere 21% self-described as liberal, the GOP should get about the business of listening to the constituants. "If you don't like it, you can leave" is unacceptable.

    October 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Lillie

    My homeboy LIndsey gives me HOPE! And he's right.....too many republicans have lost their way! It is 2009 not 1809! America is a much different place and either you're on board or you get left behind! This train is moving and fast........

    October 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. Eric

    Too late! The Republican Party already is the party of angry white guys. It has been that way ever since Nixon transformed the party with his "Southern Strategy".

    I watch the Republican party condense down to its social conservative base with glee – I really want that to continue, so that a new socially liberal/financial conservative party can form that does not include the social conservatives.

    October 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Andi

    Pretty soon the GOP will be made up of about 1000 televangelists and their followers, all armed to the teeth, ready to secede.

    October 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Christian Values

    But if you kick the angry white people out, you won't have a party. You might want to make an exception, allowing the racists to remain, in which case, you'll keep all of them still in the party!

    October 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Barbara

    Senator Graham is one voice of reason in the Republican Party and has my respect for taking on the fringe element of that party. I am a President Obama supporter, and I find Senator Graham a gentleman in the way he speaks and refers to his President.

    October 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    It's too late for the the party of obstruction and "NO". They are now angrier, racist, terrorists and hate-monguering, screaming lunatics.

    October 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. jim

    sorry senator, but your party is already extinct.

    October 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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