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. Jay T.

    You have sowed these seeds, friend. People respect the fact Ron Paul has principles and sticks to them. I disagree strongly with Ron Paul, but, I respect his opinion because he believes in something. Most Republicans, like Graham, are politicians who are only concerned with filling their coffers so they can be re-elected. Campaign finance reform is how real change will happen. It is not a partisan issue, but, an American one.

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Will in Carson City

    Maybe Graham needs to realize that a lot of people are upset with the "status quo" of government and want to go a different direction. He doesn't want the GOP to be "hijacked" by Ron Paul because he knows Paul will take the party back to the way it used to be - a party of small government, less spending, less taxes, more Constitutionality.

    Maybe Ron Paul would be better off leaving the GOP and letting the party go down without him.

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Crock

    I like him..he at least is willing to work with every one for the good of us all..and Olympia Snow needs to do that trigger thing for health care also..screw the rest of them...

    October 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. American Patriot

    I thought it always has been.

    News to me.

    The protests are growing and the CALL FOR A REVOLUTION is growing all over the country.

    Everyone I know all say the same thing, we are overdue for a Revolution so we can throw them all out and start over.

    I am afraid the next March on Washington is going to look like the G20 violence except much much bigger.

    October 13, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. John L. NYC

    It's the ultra-right wing that gives anyone with a more moderately conservative of view of things a bad rap. There are extremes on both sides of the coin and unforunately it is usually those who scream the loudest and get the most coverage. I'm one of those moderates that voted for Obama (and currently having a lot of questions about the way things are going for the country, btw) but I applaud Sen. Graham for standing his ground and having the rational foresight to see that Republicans or a larger conservative movement does not stand a chance if they are perceived as being represented by those that don't know how to make a comment, express their opinion and shut their mouths without intentionally trying to anger the other side. That's counter productive to say the least and will not move this country forward.

    October 13, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. randy-Alaska

    Graham has just hit upon the party slogan for 2012: Join the GOP, the party of angry white guys.

    October 13, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Steph

    Too late. The far-right conservative fringe (aka American Taliban) has already taken over the party. You can blame Ron Paul, but you also have to blame Sarah Palin, Rush and Hannity and all the other hateful people in the public who spread lies and fear to further their own personal agendas. The republican party has been allowing them to run around doing whatever they wish hoping it would benefit the party. Well, now that they're beginning to see just how out of control it's gotten, they want to reclaim their party. It is just too late. No one can bring this misinformed angry mob back to reality. We can only hope they begin to feed on themselves.

    October 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. katiec

    Although Graham has done his share of mud slinging, fear mongering, lies, he evidently has realized what all the sewer
    tactics have done to the republican party. Was happy to see him
    have to face the radical right wing activists his party and big
    business have created. Maybe, just maybe, some integrity and
    honor can be brought back to the republican party and they start
    doing what they are elected to do. Will be high mountain they will
    have to climb as they damage they have done to our country will
    not be easily forgotten or overcome.

    October 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    He is the poster child of those who stole the GOP away from the American citizens. It is people like Sen. Graham who want the GOP to be just like the DNC, and we are sick of the big brother government, new world order, the style of Government that our founding father's had no intention of ever allowing in our Free nation!
    Senator please read the bill of rights and the U.S Constitution again and show me where it states that this nation should have a Private central bank controlling our economy?
    And for those who are lurking read Dr. Paul's new book titled "End the Fed".

    October 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. zago

    At last, one with a brain!

    October 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Jquen

    God bless you sen. Graham
    Bout time someone stood up to the townhallers, and yea it had to be a repub.
    dems have no guts
    the bachas bill is garbage
    what are you taxing my bennies for if theres no public option???

    October 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    Your right Sen. Graham your not "going to be", you already ARE!!!

    October 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. mjm

    "....turn Congress over "to the most liberal people in the world because somebody disagrees with you."

    Didn't we just do that? How's that working out for us? 9.8% unemployment, was it?

    McCain lost because he thought like Graham. Nuff said.

    October 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Loran

    Now this republican speaks like a man with common sense, but you see what his party does for him.. They get angry and ask him to leave the party. We would welcome you Mr. Graham because we are open to new ideas and we don't tell people how to think. It is 2009, but we need to get some petticoats and wigs for rush, hannity, cheney and the rest of the looney toons who feels as thought they have all the answers. I never understood how they are so self righteous when it comes to abortion, but can look a man in the eye and flip the switch without a second thought and more times than not without irrefutable evidence. Can't figure that out. Maybe we should ask the republican governor of texas.

    October 13, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Randolph Carter, the narcissistic Obamabot

    I hate it when people accuse at me. That said, good for him for standing up to those knuckleheads. The republican party will come back stronger if they can just ditch the neocon fanatics, religious wackos and Randroids and return to their old principles. It was Reagan who laid the groundwork for the far right's highjacking of the GOP. Have a nice day!

    October 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. Bridget

    Good luck, Senator Graham, with attracting moderates. You won't find them at town hall meetings, though. Those are being overrun by non-moderates.

    October 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Duke

    While it may be a little too late to change it from being the party of Angry White guys, I have to commend Senator Graham for stepping up the idiot extreme branch of his party. What people don't understand is that just because the news focuses on the idiots of both parties, most of us are more in line with people like Senator Graham, Senator McCain, Joe Lieberman, and other moderates in the congress. I am a democrat but I'd never be so dumb to believe that my party has all the answers. George Washington never wanted political parties to exist because he knew there would be people like the tea party morons and Fox news viewers who can't think for themselves. Well done Senator Graham, you earned a new fan today.

    October 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Thomas Edwards

    Good luck, Senator Graham. Regrettably, I think you're doomed to fail, for your audience is the reason this moderate white guy wishes nothing further to do with the GOP. One can only hope that this current incarnation of the GOP can – and soon will – join the ranks of other extinct elephant types, such as the mammoth.
    T. Edwards
    Logan, UT

    October 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    I predict the GOP will split. There are those, like Graham, who are realizing too late that this dangerous game of embracing religious fervor and hate is backfiring and will desperately try to reconstitute their party. The only problem is their ideas are tried-and-failed, so they have nowhere to go.

    The rest of the GOP will form a party of people who want authoritarian idiot leaders like Limbaugh, Palin and Beck, where they have to pass a "religious" litmus test, believe in the almighty buck over everything and have no qualms lying, cheating, quitting and in general being a hypocrite.

    In the meantime, the reasonable majority will continue with a progressive agenda, and will succeed in digging our country out of the hole created by the Republicans.

    October 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Lori in St Pete

    Graham says they're "not going to be the party of angry white guys".

    (Channeling Bette Davis as Baby Jane): But ya are Blanche!

    October 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Republicans are a joke!

    you kidding me? you were in front of the line Mr. Graham! what are you talking about? don't think we haven't forgotten all the noise you helped create over the past 9 months with your other "morale" senators from SC! NOT! you need to be voted out of office too!

    October 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. The Weatherman

    If the Republicans ever stop bashing gays and immigrants, they will take-over since they will be inline with economics, foreign policy, taxes, spending and following the law with a small government.

    The originator of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson, would be shocked to see his party today. They have their grubby little hands everywhere – like socialists.

    October 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Sue

    DUH!!!!! The boy is on his way OUT!!!!!!

    October 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Jessie

    Too late, Lindsey. You've been the party of angry white guys for quite some time, and I think its really disappointing. We need a vibrant two party system in this country, but the current GOP as it stands doesn't pass muster.

    October 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. SGJ

    Finally! – one common sense voice in the republican party. thank-you Lindsey Graham.

    October 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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