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. K

    So...I guess this is his way of admitting that the Republican Party currently is a "party of angry white guys"? It's just not something they're going to be...one day in the far off future.

    October 13, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Obama 2.0

    Go Independent and to the heck with the WIG!

    October 13, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Pete Caloger

    You're right, Senator, there's still plenty of room for religious nutjobs, racists, and elitists!

    October 13, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. bluskys

    Graham you can keep standing and loving your party of no since you are getting closer of being "The last one standing".

    Extinct is the word I was looking for .

    October 13, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. Mike

    I may not agree on policy with Mr. Graham but I must credit him for at least acknowledging the weaknesses of his own party. The GOP has an image of being 'angry white men' that is ignorant of the needs of most Americans. Sometimes it is more important to make the right vote instead of following the party line as defined by a few talking heads.

    October 13, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Bob in Pa

    How about just a Party of "Angry People" that are sick and tired of politicians taking them for a ride and leaving them off in the country without a wallet. Wise up Mr. Graham, don't get drawn into the Progressive Democrats stupid pet tricks.

    You were placed in D.C. to represent Your state by the people that live there. They have said "stop spending our money". If you don't think you can uphold that end of the bargain, then you should be the one to leave.

    October 13, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. tim

    Even though he makes sense, he's still a little delusional. The Republican Party has been a collection of angry white guys for decades. He's a bit late on trying to stop that.

    October 13, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. ran

    He will not be able to stop the fall because he is part of the problem.

    The Democrats have a golden opportunity to do good work for the people if they would just band together and do it.

    The Republicans will do all they can to undermind any thing this President or Democrats try to do. We the people do not need the Republicans at this time and I wish President Obama and the Democrats would come to this realization sooner rather then later.

    October 13, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. sandy

    Thank God there is one smart Republican in Washington. It's too bad some of his groonies don't heed his advise. If they would, this country might just get something done. I applaud him, and I am definately not a Republican, but I still applaud him.

    October 13, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Ken

    You gotta love it when the birth-baggers eat their own.

    October 13, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. roo2

    I suppose Sen. Graham wants to keep it a party of shrill, flip flopping, neocon hypocrites.

    He is the embodiment of everything wrong in the republican party. The "leadership" of the republican party continues to ignore the tenets of conservatism that libertarians like Ron Paul have always taken to heart; personal responsibility, personal liberty and private property rights. These tenets are far more welcoming to all individuals of all races than the "conservative" shtick that Graham passes off as Republicanism.

    Graham is so quick to say that the republican party will not be run on libertarian ideas, yet Ronald Reagan himself is quoted as saying that the very heart of the Republican party is libertarianism. Would he be so bold as to say that Reagan is as irrelevant as Ron Paul?

    I can only hope that the good people of South Carolina get tired of being made into fools by their poor excuse of a Senator and vote in a actual conservative who will be strong enough to call out the hypocrisy of the neocon fringe.

    October 13, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Tommygunn

    I'm glad to see a true GOP politician vs RACIST cinticism which is a part of America discourse.

    It's time for the Democrats and Republicans to truly fight for AMERICA and isolate the hatred to the small minded people.

    AMERICA has evolved to a MUCH BETTER COUNTRY but the ugly hatred for the sake of venting isn't the answer.

    AMERICANs has a "right to be angry" with the loss of jobs, homes, and financial security but this did not happen over night. GREED got us to this point and ANGER will only DISTROY and SEPARATE the US.

    AMERICA let's show the world we are more MATURE than just venting angry people.

    October 13, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. johnnie w

    Hey Graham , you MORONS started this NOISE in August and now it has come back to BITE you in your GOP backside. You ask for it , now you have to LIVE WITH IT, the GOP will be CRUSHED in 2010 and presently in 2009. Oh by the way one of your COLLEAGES, Senator Snowe voted with the Democrats on HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL , today. Tell that to those NOISEY MORONS of yours. You have been HIJACKED by your own Party of NO , and the only FORWARD your moving your Party to is the BOTTOM OF THE BARREL. The NATION as the MAJORITY opposes YOU and the GOP, have you read your POLLS lately, the Republicans are at a ALL TIME LOWEST. No matter where you go Sen. Graham in the Country , read my COMMENT, Your TIME IS UP.

    October 13, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Luke Brown

    Graham thinks of himself as a conservative, thoughtful statesman.

    Unfortuntely, the days when Republicans elected people like that are over.

    October 13, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Debbie

    LOL! You can't grow a political party that supports division, anti-people of color, pushes out of the party centrists, and only believes in far right religious views. You have to heal from within first...then you can grow.

    October 13, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Lori, Houston Texas

    "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!"

    LOL! Too late, Lindsey. Should've been fighting this battle long before the religious, racist, FAUX NEWS/Talk radio crazies took control. LOL!

    October 13, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. chill

    If you think the most liberal people in the world are in the Democratic Party' in Congress, you need to get out around the world more. Having said that though, I have to give Sen. Graham credit for trying. I have to admit that after 30 years of watching my GOP being hijacked first by the conservatives and now the American Taliban purists, I finally gave up and switched.

    October 13, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. PainfullyAware

    Jack Abramoff Loves Lindsey Grahm.

    October 13, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. no need to know

    well it is already the party of no by all white people !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 13, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Meka

    Gen. Colin Powell, said it best . . . The Republican Party left him.

    Republican Party = Party of ANGRY PEOPLE !

    WE ALL Heard The PALIN RALLIES last year.

    October 13, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Shirley In California

    For once, I have a new found respect for Mr. Graham. I think he has finally seen the light. How long will it last? I don't know but I am impressed. You can be republican, have your principles and still disagree with our president but do it respectfully. He is setting a great example right now and I only hope people will pay attention and come to appreciate this.

    Thank you Senator Graham.

    October 13, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. King Kong

    Too late! Give it up, make your party mascot the wooly mammoth!

    October 13, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. kcl

    Too late buddy, take a sec and look around....

    October 13, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Tanbiker2

    Sorry, Lindsey, but the truth is your party has long been a gang of angry, bigoted white guys.

    October 13, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. David in Seattle

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

    Sen Graham and the Republicans grew these angry white guys, now they have to deal with them.

    October 13, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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