March 9th, 2010
01:57 PM ET
13 years ago

Romney to Tea Party movement: No third party bids

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Mitt Romney on Monday warned members of the Tea Party movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections."]Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney has a message to Tea Party candidates nationwide: If you lose your Republican primary bids, stay on the sidelines.

The former Massachusetts governor on Monday warned the grassroots movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections, which he said would siphon votes from Republican nominees.

"If there is a conservative candidate that runs in the general election, then obviously, divide and fail is the result," Romney said in an interview with the conservative Web site Newsmax. "Hopefully Tea Party candidates will run in respective primaries and they will either win or lose. And if they win, they will go into the general. If they lose, they won't, and they will get behind the more conservative of the two finalists."

Romney explained that "dividing our conservative effort in the general elections" would "basically hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made similar remarks last month in a speech sponsored by the Arkansas Republican Party. "Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party," she said, adding that the GOP would be the most natural fit for such activists.

Romney had kind words for the Tea Party movement. "I'm really pleased that the silent majority is silent no longer," he said, predicting that the movement "will have have an impact on this election."

"Not all the Tea Partiers are Republicans, not all of them vote for Republicans, but I think most of them will," he said.

The potential presidential candidate also dismissed his second place finish to Texas Rep. Ron Paul in last month's Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll, which he chalked up to libertarian collusion. Paul's win broke Romney's three year winning streak in the straw poll.

"The good thing about libertarians is that when they are called to show up somewhere they do, and when they get a call in the night saying, 'Hey, we need you to show up at CPAC or show up at a straw poll or show up at an event,' they will show up, and you've got to congratulate them for that," he said.

"But I don't think there is a growing portion of Americans who are, if you will, Ron Paul devotees, but he has an influence, and we welcome his participation in the party. It's a big tent party."

UPDATE: Paul spokesman Jesse Benton responded to Romney's claim.

"It takes a tremendous amount of both support and organization to win a straw poll with the prestige of CPAC's," Benton told CNN in an e-mail. "We are proud that Dr. Paul has both. The message of liberty and sound money is growing everyday, and Dr. Paul is honored to be one of the leading spokesman."

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. Jack

    Wow. Romney just doesn't get it.

    These people are not republicas either.... you will see.

    March 9, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Keith Calhoun

    Big business and Republicans got us into this mess and you want back in ? If I was Obama I would hand it back to you and tell you to correct your mistakes. I used to vote republican but the last 10 years the GOP has been hijacked by a bunch of arrigant clowns. The tea party is a prime example of idiots with a little knowledge just enough to hurt themselves. Oh yeah i am a Navy vet so dont you tell me I am anti American

    March 9, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Carl Justus

    Yeah, let us elect more of those who are owned by the rich who do not want to pay any taxes so we will have to BORROW MORE MONEY TO PAY THE BILLS.

    Then we can be like the USSR when they spent all their money trying to rule the world and now we HAVE NOT LEARNED ONE THING FOR THAT MISTAKE AND WILL DO THE SAME AND GO BANKRUPT.


    We may have a chance to save future generations of the pain we are now on track to give them unless we STOP THE GREED AND PAY OUR BILLS INSTEAD OF LEAVING THEM TO FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    March 9, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Nothing New Here

    This is too bad. The Tea Party movement had real potential for being against the nasty politics that makes up government. Then the republican party hijacked the movement and all the Tea Party is now is a tool for the Republicans. Too bad – they could have really made a difference if they were not so narrow-minded.

    March 9, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. jeff

    The get in line party at it again...

    March 9, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Jon

    Payback for the Green Party nightmare of 2000.

    It's a good thing the teaparty people are too dumb to understand this.

    March 9, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Edwin

    So... Romney wants the Tea Party to follow his direction...

    March 9, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. CR

    For the good of the nation I hope the GOP corporate opportunist faction and theTea Party bigots/Religious Right fanatics tear each other apart in the primaries. All they offer is negativity.

    March 9, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Maven

    I find two things interesting about Romney's statements.
    1: He's finally just admitting that the Tea Party is nothing but the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party.
    2: He's apparently opposed to Democracy. What right does this guy have to tell ANYONE that they can't run for public office?

    March 9, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Curt

    Romney chalks up CPAC loss up to "libertarian collusion".

    Don't forget the collusion of us constitutionalists and anti-Wilsonian conservatives and the core fiscal conservatives of the GOP either . . .
    we will ALL be colluding against Mitt in New Orleans' SRLC now as well. This time don't be so surprised and caught off guard.

    Neocons of the military industrial (congressional) complex that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us of . . .
    those sacrificing our financial security AND human lives all for a mirage in the desert
    THAT"S the real collusion that everyone needs to break up.

    Not so easily forgotten about as ya' think Mitt.

    March 9, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Robert

    "We appreciate your fine organization, but as you know, I'm a union-buster. So you guys knock it off. Go on. Go back to your distilleries and meth labs.

    Shuuush! Scram! C'mon! Fsssssst! Fsssssssst! GET! GET ON NOW! Fssssssst!

    Get back to your to your manifesto writings, but remember to vote for me come 2012 and support the GOP this fall! Good night!"


    March 9, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. BigLarry

    Sounds like the NeoCons are scared of the libertarians...go Ron Paul!

    March 9, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Jill-IN

    So in other words, pick the GOP or else!

    March 9, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Maryann Rose

    Must be tough to be a Republican. You must elect whoever the majority wants to elect.

    BE the robot!

    So much for a 'grassroots' movement! LOL! We now see who is controlling the Tea Partiers. Sad that they don't see how they're being used.

    March 9, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Nick

    Yes Mitt, it's a big ol' EMPTY tent. I can't wait to see tea partiers revolt against the Republicans!

    March 9, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Justin

    And this is how the Tea 'Party' gets co-opted before they even get off the ground.

    If they don't have the guts to run third-party candidates in elections where they're not happy with the existing candidates, then they really are just a bunch of GOPers, as their critics claim.

    I've never really bought that the Tea Party is independent of the GOP. This would be the true test.

    If they don't pass it, they get their worst nightmare – having to admit to themselves that they back a party that ran this country into the ground over the past 10 years.

    Bye-bye principles, hello cynical politics.

    March 9, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Ggmattis

    I voted for Ron Paul and I have been to a few Tea Party events. I agree though 100% with Mr. Romney about the danger of creating a third party. Doing so would only give votes to and empower democrats. Romney however, would be wise not to discredit Paul’s following and influence. A lot of republicans are fed up with overseas entanglements and wars, deficit spending, and bad monetary policy. If Romney can run again in 2012 on his business record and turnaround experience then I would vote for him without hesitation.

    March 9, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. joel palmer

    At least this swine can count. He will be pandering to the right until the general election; then he will pander to independents and the center. he is a serial panderer

    March 9, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. Brad

    The problem is...handing the country to Obama, Pelosi, and Reed is what most of the country wants. That's why we voted them in there. I say let all the Tea Partiers join the ticket!!

    March 9, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Greg Butko

    Who is Mitt Romney to lecture the Tea Party Movement? Where does he get off thinking that the Tea Parties have some allegiance to the Republican Party? The reason for the Tea Parties was to show rejection of the globalist, special-interest candidates being run by both the Democrat and Republican parties.

    I personally so no common ground between the current Republican Party, and the Tea Parties. The GOP leadership has contempt for our Constitution, and Constitutional government is what is driving the Tea Parties. The GOP supports continued theft through inflation and the Federal Reserve. The GOP supports undeclared wars around the globe, and the destruction of our civil rights. The GOP supports the phony wars on terrorism and drugs, as well as efforts to disarm the American people. And the GOP refuses to enforce our immigration laws.

    In my opinion, until the GOP purges its current leadership, and repudiates the globalists New World Order, and starts promoting Constitutional government, it is vital that we run and support third party candidates. The days of voting for the lesser of two evils is over.

    March 9, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Maxwell K

    In Canada, there is one right wing party and three left leaning parties. This would be fine Canadians understood that our government allows for coalition leadership, but instead they follow the US system so much, that some actually believe that they believe that the party that wins the election has the right to full leadership. Moronic indeed.

    March 9, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. Patrick

    Rommey is a puke.

    He flips, He flops, He is for something, Then against it

    Next week he'll say there should be a third party

    Go Obama – a true leader and friend to the little guy

    March 9, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Hendrik

    This will be the defining moment regarding the true nature of the Tea Partiers. If they listen to Romney they were never anything but Republicans in disguise.

    March 9, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Steve in Ct

    The bigest bi-partisan colaberation I've ever seen is when the two major parties conspired to distroy H. Ross Perot. The reason was to stop a movement that would've created a three party system. It'll be interesting to see how it goes if serious Tea Party candidates run.

    March 9, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. ACinCincy

    From the article: "The former Massachusetts governor on Monday warned the grassroots movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections, which he said would siphon votes from Republican nominees."

    Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had followed this "advice"... Whigs and Democrats were the Big 2 back when he made an unlikely bid as a Republican.

    Also, I support the Tea Party movement.

    Everyone I know (Democrat or Republican) believes that the current way government is operated as we know it is BROKEN.

    At least someone is making an effort to provide alternatives.


    March 9, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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