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. Jessie

    I'm a Democrat, but I've got to give it to Lindsey, though. He is standing up for his principles and at least he's trying.

    October 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Peggy - TX

    Bad Republican: How dare he help to stop climate change or vote for a non-white old guy for Supreme court- disgraceful!!!!. What is America coming to, next thing you know, we will no longer be at war with anyone and the middle class will be strong and wages will go up, then rich people will have a hard time finding good maids and gardeners and what will the war industry to with all those bombs.

    No!! Must get back to agenda of throwing women that want abortions in jail. Must get back to agenda of feeding the already fat capitalist pigs that sit in their soft chairs and reap the majority of the rewards for productivity by hard working Americans.

    October 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Melissa

    The GOP ARE "the party of angry white guys" with a token ineffectual and useless black guy as their face. Deny it all you want, but all it means is that you are in denial.

    October 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. Regressive Party Refugee (former republican)

    Naw, there are some angry white women in it too. We all saw them in the tea bagger and town hall pictures snarling like jackals about whatever the latest malicious right wing agitprop happened to be.

    October 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. Fitz in Texas

    Compared to what's up there in Washington now.....Ron Paul would be a breath of fresh air.

    October 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Duck Fallas

    Sorry, Linseed, but you ain't gonna find ANY rational republicans ANYWHERE.

    October 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Vicen FL

    Too Late! It already is....

    October 13, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. rosslaw

    Sen. Lindsey Graham is by any rational measure a Southern conservative in his political philosophy. Of course, that's the problem within what passes for today's Republican party-that "rational" part. Graham and the ever shrinking potentially responsible portion of the Repubs abdicated their leadership role and are now paying the price with the "earth is 8,000 years old", "students should be allowed to take Glocks to school" base that has taken over with the grace of a shark feeding frenzy. And being "accused" of working with fellow, albeit Democratic party, Americans to actually accomplish something! Graham and company must be experiencing that same sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach felt by Dr. Frankenstein.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. suresh

    These tea party folks are becoming like Taliban. They are ganging up against Republicans who do not support their extreme views. It serves right to GOP because they created these hate mongers for political gain.

    This is similar to what has happened in Pakistan. They created Taliban and now Taliban is trying to take over Pakistan.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Brandon

    The GOP is ALREADY the party of angry white guys and Graham is one of them.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Lurker

    Liz Cheney is not a credible person to critize President Obama's domestic and foreign policies. Her father failed the country by influencing Bush to attack Iraq. The The news media should not give her so much exposure because she speaks for her father Dick Cheney and he is a recognizable national and international failure.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. njr

    most of you already forget the 8 long years of misery of the Bush,Cheney ,Rumsfeld ,and co...80% of Americans people have seen the country being hijacked by the Republicans.Enough was enough.It's time now to let decent people help us forget the nigtmares of the last 8 years.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Katie

    Yahoo! Way to go Senator! As an SC resident and a Democrat, I am so proud of his stance. You can disagree with the opposition, but be smart enough to know that if you are bull-headed and refuse to work with people, the country loses, let alone your party. I think his actions are a step in the right direction that all Senators, both Democrat and Republican, can take a look at.

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Cnn please post my comment! 1 love!

    oops too late!

    October 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Barry in Maryland

    The more I hear from Lindsey Graham the more I like. I consider myself an Independent but have been mostly voting Democratic due to the extreme positions the Republicans have been taking. If more the moderate Republican voices and candidates can win out over the extremists I would probably start voting Republican more often again.

    October 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. If you liked Bush, you'll love Lindsay Graham

    Thanks to McCain/Lindsay/Limbaugh the GOP is already the party of old angry white men who support big government. This will continue until the GOP decides to open itself to small-government conservatives who support Ron Paul. Lindsay does not own the GOP. Ron Paul supporters include the young, women and minorities who should not be shut out of the GOP. There is nothing wrong with supporting the principles of limited government prescribed in the Constitution. Lindsay has hijacked the Party of Reagan and delivered it to the Big-Government Neocons.

    October 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. William in San Jose

    Ron Paul is a joke as well as the GOP. Good luck to any of them, the party of puberty.

    October 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. Dallas

    You are already the party of angry white guys get over it and for God sake do what's right. Remember for every lie to tell another one will follow.

    October 13, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Obama supporter

    Boy I am telling you. The Republican Party is full of wingnuts.

    October 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. Kris D., Toronto

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

    You're a little late bud.

    October 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Speaking for Liberals

    Denial ain't just a river that flows through Egypt.

    October 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. robrubin

    Maybe he should join the Democrats because apparently any Republican who shows any support for the slightest Democratic proposal/appointment is considered a traitor.

    I am glad that Sen. Graham has stood up and denounced the likes of Beck and all the birthers.

    I still think that he is still too conservative for my taste, but I do admire the fact that he is willing to talk about and have debate on actual POLICY rather than just spew vitriolic hate like most of the rest of his party.

    October 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. J

    Tea Baggers are subversives bent on eroding the Unites States from with in.

    United We Stand... UNITED!!! Let's get United about something.

    Health Care would be a good place to start.

    We are all humans and all deserve the RIGHT to health care. Really only those who want to control a population would want a sick and desperate population.

    October 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Doug, New Jersey

    Sad to say but the people in Detroit and Chicago who have voted Democrat for the last 40 years are getting what they deserve. Thanks to Democrats they are afraid to leave their homes. They have been denied their American dream since keeping them poor, hopeless, and dependant on the government assures them of being Democrat voters. Their life expectancy and quality of life is a direct reflection of their loyal Democrat voting.

    If they want to give their children a better life, a safe life, then they need to embrace the Republicans. You can't expect the republicans to keep trying to help when that help is always met with a personal attack that lack any validity.

    October 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. 2012

    Good Luck, he'll need it.....bwahahahahahaha!

    October 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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