July 1st, 2010
12:23 PM ET
10 years ago

Graham: Tea Party 'unsustainable'

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Tea Party movement is 'unsustainable.'

Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Tea Party movement is 'unsustainable.'

(CNN) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is frequently at odds with conservative activists in his own state, predicts the Tea Party movement will eventually "die out" despite the political energy it's generating during this midterm election year.

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine posted online Thursday, the South Carolina Republican lamented the state of his party and doubted whether the Tea Party movement will survive.

"The problem with the Tea Party, I think it's just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country," Graham told the magazine, recounting his private meetings with members of the movement. "It will die out."

Graham, who was re-elected in 2008, has been censured by multiple county party organizations in his home state because of his bipartisan efforts to fix immigration and energy policy.

He acknowledged that those stances put him at sharp odds with the Tea Party movement, which other GOP leaders have sought to accommodate ahead of the midterm elections. His fellow South Carolina Senator, Jim DeMint, is regarded as something of a hero among Tea Party activists nationwide.

"Everything I'm doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement's at," he said.

Graham stressed his belief that the GOP must welcome different viewpoints if it wants to be competitive in the future.

"We don't have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats," he told the magazine, "Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today."

UPDATE: On CNN's "The Situation Room," conservative radio host Bill Bennett offered a different prediction about the Tea Party movement's future.

"I will predict right now the Tea Parties will outlast the political viability of Lindsey Graham," Bennett said. "But I hope they both survive a long time."

Bennett said Tea Party activists "are not there to govern."

"That's not what the Tea Parties are there for," he said. "Tea parties are a way for people to voice their dissent, their disagreement, to address their grievances, as Thomas Jefferson said."

Filed under: 2010 • Lindsey Graham • Popular Posts • South Carolina • Tea Party movement
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Richard

    The one thing that will never die out is the spirit and verve of the American people. Regardless of parties new or old, when the electorate is violently assualted, their rights threatened and their wallets robbed as this administration has done. There will arise a force. In this instance, it just happens to be the tea party.

    Obama and his lap dogs are just getting a taste of how far out of bounds and out of step they are with the real American psyche. (...and the people who pay the taxes)

    They fooled a bunch of folks in 08. They will not do it again! Some of their little lap dog minions and deal takers will be voted out as early as this November.

    All of government was to be transparent, open hearings and new day in Washington..... Yes, Chicago thug politics blew in with this blessed messiah and changed DC for a fair you well. It was far more transparent under Richard Nixon and his tricks didn't cost the nation trillions!

    July 1, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    Lindsey, beware of speaking truth to power; just ask John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.

    July 1, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Jeff of Peoria

    I don't think that's the smartest thing he could have said. I'm a big fan but sometimes it's best to keep ones mouth shut RIGHT OR WRONG. I think the Yea Party will die but it's been great to see them scare the crap out of both REPUBS and DEMS.

    I think it refocussed the REPUBS to remember who they are supposed to be.

    ..and to those who say Grahm is a RINO or a DEM, you need to remember who led the charge to impeach Clinton. A RINO would not have the balls to do that. LIKE ARLEN SPECTER did when he voted PRESENT during the Senate trial. Grahm was in the House and was on the committee that took that case to the Senate.

    July 1, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. David

    Senator Graham is distinguishing himself from the (wax) dummies we've come to expect from the GOP. Right or wrong he's a thinking man. A few more, and we would avoid the GOP's gratuitous wars.

    July 1, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Bill


    The country will be better off when racists like you disappear.

    July 1, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. conniesz

    Lest you all forget – Ronald Reagan legalized 2.8 million undocumented workers with his amnesty program. Now tell me again what a good Teabagg#r he was. Ronald Reagan looks a lot like a moderate Democrat these days.

    July 1, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Doc

    I think Graham is right. It will either fade away or take over the Republican Party entirely. There are alot of us independents who are not happy with everything that goes on in the federal gov't but the tea party does not have room for anyone that does not have a far right conservative viewpoint. Therefore they are pretty much preaching to the choir. As said before, where were they during the last administration?

    July 1, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Bill

    It's true. Ronald Reagan would not stand up to the conservative ideology being pushed by the teapartiers today. No matter what Sister Sarah says he was not the conservative she makes him out to be. And by the way, Reagan went to college in Illinois not California Sarah. Get your facts straight before you go opening your piehole for dollars. And this Angle woman running for the Senate as a Republican in Nevada is an embarrasment to our country. I'm appauled that someone so ignorant of basic facts like the separation of church and state being part of our constitution might become a US Senator. I feel bad that so many of my fellow Americans (teabaggers) are such an embarrassmet to themselves and our Country. We can do better than this. Pitifull.........

    July 1, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    How do you expect a bunch of nut cases to be "coherent?"

    July 1, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Ben

    Larry – "Lindsey, there might be hope for you after all."

    No, Larry, there's no hope for you or him. Both of you are totally clueless.

    July 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. jenn, philadelphia

    of course it will die out, and then be born again as it has from time to time since the mid-80's. as for the republican party needing to welcome other viewpoints, i agree, but he should know that the tea party would be considered another viewpoint.

    July 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Really?

    spoken like a true Democrat!

    July 1, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |

    If you look at Senator Grahamn`s past staements and actual voting record You will notice he says one thing then votes another. No one should trust any gop`er right now (ever?)

    July 1, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. Ben

    No, Senator Graham, it's you and the other RINO's in the Republican party that have no vision.

    Adhering to the Constitution = No clear vision? Are you on drugs, Senator?

    July 1, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. Terry in Iowa

    It’s really amazing to me at how completely ignorant many of the conservatives that post here are. It’s also quite amusing.

    I do have a question for my Tea Party neighbors; you cry out your desire to protect the US Constitution, yet in your own actions you are attempting to tear it apart. Every representative on Capital Hill, our President and the Supreme Court Justices have been duly elected or appointed in accordance to the Constitution. Yet, because they are not whom YOU wanted to represent you, you decry that the country is being duped, that you want your country back. I see you as no different than the Taliban, a minority voice that is willing to do anything to control the majority. How can you call yourselves patriots (or even decent citizens) when you clearly despise the founding document that you proclaim you want to protect?

    Actions do speak louder than words.

    July 1, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Wil in the VA.

    Looks like Graham hit a nerve, some people can't handle the truth.

    July 1, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. anagram_kid

    The brand will die out as more people realize that this is nothing more than a collection of people who cannot accept the fact that we have an intelligent man as president who happens to be black. While I think the latter is an issue, the real problem these people have is that they just don’t like smart people. Based on what I have read these are people who voted for G.W. Bush after Medicare Part D, two unfunded wars and spying on fellow citizens. There was no ‘small government’ in any of that. They can call themselves Oath Keepers, Tea Partiers or the New Fangled Super Patriotic Real Americans. They are, and will always be, Republicans.

    July 1, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Donkey Party

    Funny how the right-wing idiot on here call Graham a Rino or Democrat. You people are so damn stupid, it's becoming comical to read your asinine comments.

    July 1, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Whats in a Name?

    I think Lindsey Graham is one of the few republicans on the right track for the sake of their party. As a democrat, i can get along with Lindsey. But I can also see getting rid of him will push the party further to the right; just where I want them to be so we can win!

    July 1, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Ben

    Pam – "If they were truly concerned with government reform, they woul have been incensed by what occured during the Bush administration.
    Just a bunch of sore losers!"

    And how can you not be incensed by what this administration is doing today? They have no clue how to deal with the Gulf oil spill. They refuse to enforce existing immigration laws. How can you be OK with that? You need to put the crack pipe down and see what's really going on here?

    July 1, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. June in Chicago

    Mitch – was it really necessary to put an adjetive in front of "president"? That only shows everyone exactly what your problems are. So sad. Wake up man, this is the 21st Century. Who cares what color someone is? What I care about is what position they take on the issues. You, my friend (NOT), are out of line!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. DJ in TX

    The Senator may be on to something. Reagan DID appeal to Democrats. The Tea Party, in my view does NOT represent the mainstream America. Governing from the Far Right or the Far Left is NOT good for America. There has to be middle ground. I'm not asking anyone to abandon their core principles, but there is common ground for those in the middle. Things have changed since the founding fathers times. Yes they had foresight, but no one could have predicted how America has progressed over the years.

    I'm sorry, what worked back then, will NOT work now. There's over 300 million people now and 50 states. There was only 13 states then. There were no large corporations with thousands of employees and billions of dollars. Our representatives were paid VERY little and actually worked for the people. We were not the melting pot we are now. Minorities did NOT have rights back then (and really not until 1965, which some Tea Parties think was bad).

    So Lindsay Graham is right. If Ronald Reagan tried to appeal to the Democrats, which he did compromise on some things, today he would be considered a RINO. BTW – does anyone realize the national debt went up 189% during Reagan's time? He cut taxes, but all were not paid for...............interesting......................

    July 1, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Donnatella

    Lindsey Graham is right, nobody really takes the tea party seriously, they have a few big strikes against them #1the group consist of mostly old retired people who are already living off the government-hypocrites.#2 Where were they during the last 10 years sleep, it's like they just woke up and want to blame everything from unemployment to immigration on the present administration-narrow minded. #3 their spokesperson is SARAH PALIN, I know to these old wash-up tea party people she is the best thing since apple pie, but to the educated, thinking portion of this country SHE IS A JOKE, AS LONG AS THEY ARE ASSOCIATED WITH HER THEY WILL NEVER BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. WE DON'T FEAR HER WE LAUGH AT HER!!!

    July 1, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. June in Chicago

    Mr. Graham, I salute you for your candor and honesty. I belong to no party, but you are the type of person I would vote for.

    July 1, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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