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. Jamie

    Too bad Graham, it already has!

    October 13, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. chelle

    Ummmmmmmmmmmm too late Lindsey – way too late.

    October 13, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. William Joseph Miller, Los Angeles

    Say what?
    Has Graham heard the rantsand ravings of the lunatic right? Why did Van Jones resign? In the past what was the Republican stand on civil rights, voting rights, and fair housing? Hasn't the Republican party consistenty tried to prevent African-Americans from voting? Look at the last election?
    Actions seak louder than words, regardless of what Graham says, the Repulican act like bunch of "old, angry white guys." If the shoe fits, wear it.

    October 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys." So you will be a party of none then?

    October 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. NVa Native

    Sorry Lindsey – too late.

    October 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. uzalex

    Amen to Lindsey Graham Amen! Do not let your party be hijacked by the likes of Rush and Co!

    October 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Splat!~

    As long as Rush Limbaugh is at the helm it will be!~

    October 13, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. randy s

    Hey Linsey if you want to really do something start with this:
    GOP or DEM, political corruption and the lack of trust it creates is what hurts our country as much as anything. I'm not very politically savy, but you don't have to be to know that America could really cut down on political corruption with 2 changes. Term limits and campaign finance reform.
    1. Limit every politician to a 6 or 8 year term.
    2. No corporation, group or individual may give over 100.00 to any campaign.
    Concerning political tv shows: Because so much of the media is politically biased they should be forced to read a disclaimer before each politcally based show, right after each commercial and at the end of every show, saying that everything that is being shown is just an opinion. Most of us know this already but there are some young voters out there that don't..or is this what you rascals are counting on?

    October 13, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. yuri

    South Carolina is like a cauldron of boiling oil. Any droplet from that is likely to cause severe burns. But, if the source of boiling is removed, it can become manageable, and it will retain its greasy nature.

    October 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Keith

    Good for you Senator Graham. I am not a fan but it is nice to see a real Republican stand up to the nut ball wing of the party.

    October 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Peter (CA)

    Sorry Senator but it already is.

    You seem to be a reasonably decent guy. Maybe it's time to cut your losses.

    October 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Kevin St Pete FL

    Let's see, How many glaring sins does the RNC have, hmmm?

    1. The 2000 Presidential Election- STOLEN.
    2. 9/11- MISMANAGED AND HANDLED WITH SHEER INCOMPETINCE.
    3. The war in Iraq- FABRICATED ON LIES, GREED AND REVENGE.
    4. Hurricane Katrina- NEED I SAY MORE?
    5. The economy- AGAIN, NEED I SAY MORE?
    6. The attacks made on the 2008 Presidential Campaign AND the tatics being used in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY against the Obama Administration.

    That is all the Republican Party amounts to.

    October 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Typical Democrat

    Oh those Greedy Republicans, think they should keep their money and not share it with the rest of us.

    October 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. normajean

    Apparently theRepublican partys own people don't realize that they are becoming not just "The party of No" but irrelevant. They have brought themselves close to oblivion and it is going to take a lot of work to bring them back to where they will have a strong showing in future elections. People are like elephants, they don't forget.

    October 13, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Shelly CO

    Are the republicans growing their brains and hearts back???? I really would like to see another sensible, thoughtful and inclusive second political party. The GOP has lost it all and has become a party of fear, hate and NO. They will be extinct unless they change themselves.

    October 13, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. B

    Wow, can you say that again Mr. Graham ! Is that a tiny bit of light in the very very dark GOP?

    The Republicans don’t seem to get it yet. They can’t win a national election buy catering to the 20% of the -extreme end- of the right wing..

    October 13, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Eddie

    Go join the LIberals!

    October 13, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Tony in Maine

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

    You got the tense wrong Lindsey. It is, was and for whatever amount of time is left for it, the party of fear, hate and angry white guys.

    October 13, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. klow

    Tell em' Graham. " If you don't like it, you can leave." I love it!

    October 13, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Patriot

    Ah...hey Lindsay...it already is the party of angry white guys.....take a look around dude....

    October 13, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Slappy White

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

    Too late for that kind of talk. It's done.

    And who does Lindsey Graham think put him in office in the first place?

    October 13, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. rob

    well surprise.. But you forgot Old angry white guys

    October 13, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. AZ Jake

    Until the Rethuglicans rid themselves of the fanatic evangelical wingnuts created by devotees of James Dobson we'll never be a viable political party again.

    Moderates have fled the Republican Party by the millions, and it's time we completely divorce ourselves from the intolerant Rethuglican vermin that remain.

    It's time for the moderates to combine, both Republican and Democrats, and create a third party.

    October 13, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. smokey

    Tell that to RL !!!!!!

    October 13, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. unshrub

    It sure sounds like it to me! Just because you say it is so, doesn't make it so.

    October 13, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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