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. KJ

    I don't agree with most of Sen. Graham's political leanings. However, I must admit I admire his strength of character to stand up to extremists with his party. I also admire his loyalty to his friends.

    October 13, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Snake-eyed-bama

    You tell them idiots, Graham... I love it when those fools spit venom at each other in a public forum. Let 'em eat Mississippi Mud Pie and turnip greens if they wanna bail from the rotten republicans... lol

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

    They want to throw him out because he's an oddity among Republicans – someone who actually uses his head once in awhile and will consider evidence and arguments even if they don't fall smack in the middle of the Limbaugh Brainless Party (LBP they shold be re-named) and their rigid dogma. Hey, a Repub that I can actually respect a bit, even if I disagree with him on most issues. Too bad the sheep that have hijacked his party do not have the intelligence to look at issues and arguments instead of donning the white hoods every time they are ordered to do so.

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

    ".....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."

    Good luck with that...

    Go get em Barrack and Michelle!

    October 13, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Karen

    Good ole Lindsey Graham, he never met a camera he didn't love 🙂

    October 13, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. GrogInOhio

    "I'm going to grow it. We're not going to be the party of angry white guys."

    Oops... too late Senator.

    October 13, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. thekaj

    Stop talking sense Senator. The remains of the Republican base don't talk that anymore. They've convinced themselves that the only way to regain power is to cast out the non-believers and make the Party smaller.

    October 13, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    Finally, a reasoned voice in the Republican party. You go, Senator Graham.

    October 13, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Lou - Manchester, CT

    Until the Republican Party starts putting forth ideas and stops with the "NO NO NO" mentality, they will be villianized as they are now.
    Hey Lindsey Graham – you can try reaching out to other voters, but you won't succeed until your fellow party members vut out the rhetoric. So, in the meantime:

    Don't go away mad, just go away...

    October 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Kate in SW Fla

    I would love for the Republican party to come back to its roots. Let me tell you, I am very sceptical at this point and will not vote for another one until they are NOT the Party of angry white guys, because they sure are right now. They refuse to help solve any of the problems that they helped create, acting all indigant and self-righteous, as if they had nothing to do with it.

    October 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Rob R

    Finally, a Republican with the gonads to stand up to the wackos...we'll watch this unfold with great interest.

    October 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Republicans Hate America

    Ummm....TOO LATE. What a clown.

    October 13, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. thebob.bob

    "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys." Graham was then attacked by a mob of angry white guys who screamed "Abortion is Murder" while waving their pistols in the air. Republicans did it to themselves.

    Fear, Hatred, Distortion and Division is all they have to offer.

    October 13, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Graham, you are too late with too little.

    The angry white redneck guys already rule the new republiklan party, the old republican party that you describe is already dead.

    You should have stood up to them prior to now, now they will just shout you down like they do to Democrats in all forums. They are not interested in debate, only in "taking our country back" from the black President!

    October 13, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Phil

    I like these kind of common sense conservatives better than the far right wingnuts that are just down right scary.

    October 13, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Chris D.

    Kudos to Sen. Graham......I said it in January 2009......this guys going to run for President.......Hopefully he'll wait until 2016,though....Obama/Biden 2012.....The DEMS already have the idea of a strong/broad coalition.....

    October 13, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Darko

    You've got it backwards. The conservatives aren't going to let the party be further hijacked by RINO's like you. It has absolutely nothing to do with being old or being white....absolutely nothing. It's about holding true to the founding of this country. It's about defending what makes us different from Europe and why we fought for our independence.

    The democrats are hell bent on growing the govt with govt healthcare, cap n trade, and obama's czars running the autos and the banks.

    It was predicted that they'd overstep much like they did with Carter and Clinton and boy they haven't disappointed in the least.

    October 13, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. reasonable man

    "not going to be the party of angry white guys"...Too late.

    October 13, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. MamaJo

    "Angry White Men"? Would that be an approvement over the 'whiney white men" they've been for some time now??? Give me a break. There's nothing manely about the Republicans/Conservative. They have Rushamindjah, WeepyGlenn, and WhimpyHannity leading the way, what did they expect?

    October 13, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. S M R

    This is one Republican that has common sense, lets make Him a Democrat.

    October 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Will-South Dakota

    Interesting....he should take cues from Ron Paul and ask him to clue him in on America and what we are facing out here across this country.
    So far the GOP has the angry face of Rush Limbaugh, Colter, Cantor, Boehner, McConnel.....all angry whites guys to me!

    October 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Monty Delaware GOP!!!!

    Sen. Graham......

    Amen..... God bless you for having the balls to say it to their face....

    October 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    They already are, aren't they? Seems most of the anger is coming from the GOP national office and certain members of Congress. Look at the "anger" brought out by Palin during the campaign. Didn't hear much from McCain stopping it, did you.

    October 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Hopeful Optimist

    Never know exactly what to think of his remarks. But that begs the broader

    October 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. MiMi

    GOP is not going to include the likes of Graham or Snowe. U guys are Dems in Republ clothing. You do not hold conservative values. To say that the GOP party is a bunch of "white people"; are you kidding me. You don't have to be white to be a republ; you just have to be conservative. The Graham’s, Snowes, and McCains, etc. have tried to take over our party. We are taking it back. Liberal "republs" look-out.. You vote with the Dems to ruin this country with this healthcare stuff and the bottomless spending using "we the peoples" hard earned money, then you will fall with the Dems. We the conservatives (black, white, pink, polka dotted, all colors) have had it. Does Graham and Snowe realize how idiotic they appear? Conservative Republs where are you; I don’t hear you; I don’t see you. Why are U guys not blasting your party members for jumping over to the other side? HELLO!!!!!!!

    October 13, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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