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. Laverne

    Oh Lindsay, the rest of us have been trying to tell you who you've been dealing with all the long. They are nuts and by the way some things never change!

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

    Republicans all goose-step together....well, except for Senator Snowe.

    October 13, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Reagan was wrong

    Ron Paul named his kid Rand. Normal people do not name their kid Rand.

    October 13, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Andrew

    Booed after that comment, better role out the token black republicans to cover your tracks. The amount of unfounded hate emanating from the republican party. I used to like the republican party too; at least until it started getting taken over by the religious racist ultra conservative nut jobs. I hope that the conservatives get their way and purge their party of anyone that isn't at the far right fringe. Fox News can keep its huge market share of people too stupid to use the internet and the party will trim its numbers down so far that it will fade into obscurity.

    October 13, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Ray

    "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."

    Of course they're angry! Why wouldn't they be? This is a man who is TRYING to work with others! The GOP can't be seen as being able to work with anyone. They HAVE to be seen as being the Party of No.

    Imagine this - if they actually do what they're supposed to do and work with other elected officials to try to make America a better place, then the GOP would have to give up the name Grand Obstructionist Party and be :: gasp:: actually doing their job! Can you honestly see anyone in the GOP doing what they're supposed to do?

    October 13, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Eric M

    Graham needs to wake up and smell the coffee. He's talking about building a broader colaition, reaching out to new constituencies, and defending his positions in opposing his own party....and he's doing this to a chorus of boos from the very people that elected him.

    The people want to be represented, not told what positions they should support by self-righteous politicians that long-ago stopped living in the real working world.

    Graham and others like him should take notice. Represent the will of the people, or you'll be replaced by someone that will.

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Garret

    could've fooled me

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. tiff of Lithia Springs

    Lets hope that's the truth. Lord knows time is not on your side with the new census.

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. MollyAnne

    Ahem, they ARE a bunch of angry white guys. Just look at em.

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Lawrence Moses

    It's already too late. The GOP will continue to be known as the party of angry white people who spread BIGOTRY, IGNORANCE, and RACISM. There isn't anything that any Republican senator can do to stop this, especially because they can't control the Rush Limbaugh and the people who adore him on the far right. The hole they have dug themselves into is just too deep to get out of.

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. republicans hate america

    just because you say you are not angry white guys means its true. the rush limbaugh party is a bunch of angry white guys

    October 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Gallimimus

    Umm, he's a little late with "angry white guys" rhetoric, that's pretty much what the republican party is. Party of hate!

    October 13, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Kevin St Pete FL

    Let's see, how many glaring sins does the RNC have, hmm?

    1. The 2000 Presidential Election- STOLEN.

    October 13, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Barbara Independent in NY

    Too late Lindsey. The GOP is the party of angry white guys and "tea baggers" and "birthers" and Rush and Glenn and Cheney and Coulter. Oh, and let's not forget the "grassroots" anti health care reformers.

    October 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Cindy

    Bravo, Senator Graham, Bravo!

    Angry White guys: Grow up, and join the 21st century!

    October 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Susan

    Too late...you already are the party of rich angry white guys...look at your ertswhile leaders, Rush, Palin, Beck...getting rich by pretending to be angry at Obama....laughing all the way to the offshore banks. Wonder how many taxes they pay?

    October 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. true daughter of the american revolution

    what's to love about the republican party? they have nothing. Graham is a beast of the past.

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

    Graham, if you seriously want to grow the Republican Party, maybe you should reconsider your stance on gun rights. I appreciate what you are saying, and actually agree with a lot of it...more centrist Republicans NEED to take their party back from the extremists and wingnuts that have taken control of it, but you ought to perhaps check with your constituents on what they really want.

    October 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Connie, Indiana

    Sorry, Lindsey already has happened. Should have thought about that months ago, too late now. Most American people know where the republican party stands.

    October 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Sara in Texas

    Lindsey Graham is right! As a moderate I am so sick of these rude yelling wingnuts that claim to be the voice of America!!! They are NOT!They will only continue to destroy the Republican party with their extremist ideas! Everyone will run the other way if they take over the party!!!

    October 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. Farrell in Houston

    Graham says the Republicans "aren't going to be a party of angry white guys", how about also adding to the list uneducated and unintelligent people like Palin and the rest of her clan.

    October 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Frozone

    The GOP is not all angry white men. Some of them are just morons.

    October 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Jeff in Virginia

    Angry white guy says GOP "not going to be the party of the angry white guys".... does this mean that Graham will be quitting the Republicans?

    Cat, meet kettle.

    October 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Enough

    Nope, but that's how MSNB portrays Republicans. Reality is Republicans are the party of the WORKING class people and Democrats are the Tax and Spend Liberals who are there to take from those who work and give it to those who don't.

    This country is ready for a viable third party and throw out all these corrupt self serving Democrats and Republicans. We need a party in the center that serves the interest of the people and not themselves.

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

    I must admit, he is showing some true statesmanship!

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