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. A Real American

    come on...I mean the guys name is Lindsey...he can't be a "real" republican with a name like that.
    When is Rush going to kick him out of the party?

    October 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Ron in GA

    Vote them all out of Congress. Every single one of them: Democrat, Republican, Independent. If they are an incumbent that has helped get us into this situation, they need to be removed. Time for fresh blood, fresh ideas, and to save this great country.

    October 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. emily

    I am not a Republican, but I applaud Senator Graham for standing up against the people who are demolishing the party he really does care about. How can they not see that?

    October 13, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Adam

    "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."

    Not if we don't vote for you again! Its game over for you, and you neo-con ilk.

    This guy doesn't get it. He is not in charge.

    October 13, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. Jack

    I haven't always agreed with Sen. Graham but I've always respected him. He is a conservative but he is also thoughtful and willing to explore areas of compromise. That is what politics is; compromise. We can't, liberal or conservative, get everything we want. That is self-delusional. But we can look for areas that we do agree on. There is nothing wrong with opposition but there also needs to be an understanding that if two sides just oppose each other there is stasis and nothing gets done. Politics is an organic process and it needs to constantly be in motion. In the end, liberals and conservatives must move toward the center, even as they still push for their agendas. This is healthy politics.

    October 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Rob Fletcher

    Lindsey Graham is the poster child of politicians needing to be impeached or voted out as soon as possible. He is completely out of touch with those who elected him and rather wants to take on a national effort to save the republican party. Worst of all, he is an enemy of the Constitution-loving, God-fearing people who want the party restored to it's conservative roots.

    October 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Mississippi Miss

    Please do not villify Lindsey Graham. He is a representative servant of the highest order. No one can agree on everything. If we get the 'sanctifiy of human rights' issue to be front and center, then we will have God on our side. If God is for us, who can be against us?

    Republicans are perceived as rich and selfish, Democrats are perceived as being for the common man. Neither is neither, both are both. Moderates should pull together to force the formation of the
    LIBERAL PARTY. We can only dream of Democratic moderates, becoming Republicans. If only.

    October 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. Reformed Republican

    To late there Spanky.

    The GOP and most all of the rethuglicans in congress has been taken over by rotting brain evangelicals whose stated purpose is to run Obama out of office in discrace, send "god hating-gay lovin'" democrats packing and to "bring back their America" of white "christian" folks being in charge of everything.

    Time to let that ship sail and get on with forming a "real American", rational conservative movement. One that accepts the challenges of the changing demographics of the US and our new position as a leading player – not THE leader – in the world of international politics...

    October 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. JACK

    The GOP "IS" a party of angry white guys. Can't white-wash it, it shows every day.

    October 13, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Navy Vet

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

    You're Too Late

    October 13, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Cindy

    The GOP sure ain't the party Mom and Pop once supported. Sad.

    October 13, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. mrkusn

    This is not a problem of liberal vs conservative alignment within the GOP. This is a generational shift. The old ways of partisanship will end. The GOP is in danger of becoming a largely a regional party. Conservatism is at war with itself; social, fiscal, and national security hawks have been divided over policy for years. The warning signs were way back in 1992. Reagan Republicanism is dead now. The new GOP will be more progressive on some issues, fiscally moderate, culturally inclusive, and more conservative on foreign policy – less imperialist. By 2016, they should have their ducks in a row.

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

    Wow, Graham!! wake up then. The party is not going to be hijacked by Paul, although it would be better off. Paul would do better to start a third party and ditch this two-party scam that's already been hijacked by corporations and banks.

    October 13, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Robrob

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

    Too late.

    October 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. RDLD

    they alredy are

    October 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. M.

    Too Late

    October 13, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Carnell From Detroit, MI USA

    It's Senator Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina "Captain Sluuur!" I'm Sorry To Disappoint You Senator Graham, But Your Party Already Have Angry White Men In It. Led No Less By A Cohort Right From Your State. Congressman R-South Carolina Joe "Mouth Of The South Carolina!" Wilson. Then There's Chuck "Snake In The" Grassley, Rush Limburger, "Mr. Insanity!" Sean Hannity, And Glenn "The Buzzard!" Beck Just To Name A Few.

    October 13, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Vivian/in miss

    The GOP have shown themselves....

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Sick & Tired

    That is exactly what the GOP has become, even Sen. Graham recognizes it.

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. DougDC

    I think that will only leave Liz Cheney and Sarah "quitter" Palin

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Charles

    So split the party. Let Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Rush go off with the evangelists and libertarians to form their own right wing party, while McCain, Snowe, and Graham form a new Republican party. They'll probably gain more voters from the independent and swing crowd, at the same time chipping away from the moderate Democrat base, than they lose to the wing.

    Maybe then they'd have a party that would make Mr. Lincoln proud.

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Jim Wexler

    Growing the Republican Party is like growing Poison Ivy.

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. John M, NoHo

    Wow. I respect him, actually. He stands for many things I oppose, but that kind of approach is all right.

    October 13, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Peter s

    Lindsey Graham lets ditch the right and the left and form a party which will deal with whats right and whats wrong!! aparty which will free Americans from the corporate greed!!

    October 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Proud American

    I agree, how about "Idiot and Angry"

    October 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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