Tea Party leaders not swayed by Lugar meeting
January 5th, 2011
05:00 AM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party leaders not swayed by Lugar meeting

Washington (CNN) - Hoping to head off a primary challenge from the right, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, sat down with Tea Party leaders last month but did little to persuade them of his conservative credentials.

The two-hour meeting, which took place over breakfast on Dec. 13th at a Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis, was described by participants on both sides as "cordial," but the Tea Party activists left vowing to oppose Lugar's bid for a seventh term.

"The Senator said he hoped he could earn the support of the Tea Party, and that he is conservative," said Greg Fettig, the co-founder of Hoosier Patriots. Fettig was joined in the meeting by Monica Boyer of Kosciusko "Silent No More," a Tea Party group in northeast Indiana.

"We obviously would beg to differ that he is conservative, and our experience is that he won't get the support of any Tea Party group across the state," Fettig told CNN. "This is something that has really been building for years. A lot of Tea Party people have said, 'Who is this guy? He might as well have a 'D' in front of his name.'"

Fettig and Boyer originally requested the meeting as representatives of Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, an organization of roughly 60 Tea Party groups formed to find a conservative primary challenger to Lugar, or force his retirement.

Lugar and a pair of staffers discussed a range of federal issues, including the role of earmarks and the Federal Reserve. Fettig and Boyer objected to Lugar's sponsorship of the DREAM Act, his support for the ratification of the START nuclear arms treaty during the lame-duck session of Congress, and his votes to confirm Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Mark Hayes, a spokesman for Lugar, was in the room and acknowledged that "not everybody is going to agree with everything" the senator has done in his long career.

But, Hayes told CNN, "[Lugar's] preference is to sit down and have a conversation, to understand where they're coming from, and really to point out the high degree of similarities, for the most part, on a lot of different issues. It was a good conversation."

Fettig called Lugar "likeable" and "a lovely human being," but said Lugar should prepare for a Tea Party challenge.

"We weren't swayed," he told CNN. "We equated it to going out on a football field, shaking hands, flipping the coins, and game on. He wants to win, and we want to win."

Hoosiers for Conservative Senate is convening a "Road To Retirement" event in Indianapolis on Jan. 22 in Indianapolis, where organizers hope that an array of Tea Party groups can unite around one Republican candidate to challenge Lugar in the May 2012 primary.

Fettig named state Sen. Mike Delph and Treasurer Richard Mourdock as challengers who could earn the Tea Party group's blessing.

Filed under: Dick Lugar • Indiana • Tea Party movement
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Chaos

    Lugar can't say what he knows, namely, that tea baggers are radical morons.who get all their information from propaganda based talk show hosts.

    January 5, 2011 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  2. DOS

    I wish a few Republicans would have the "cajones" to tell the Tea Party to sit down and shut up. Why are the extremes with the megaphones controlling an entire party? It's a shame when you're more interested in self preservation than serving those who elected you, so you buckle.

    January 5, 2011 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  3. Terry - Indiana

    Lugar must convince me that the DREAM Act was more than just a slick amnesty bill for illegals to enter the United States. There seems to be a push for cheap, uneducated labor, and some Republicans, like Lugar, cannot see that this bill will create an open-door policy for all family members of those permitted to stay after receiving their education, to move to the United States. If Mexico and other Central American Countries want to educate the brightest young minds in the United States, I support this move, however these young people need to return to their native country and become teachers and future leaders. The need to bring their entire family to the United States is nothing more than a move to stuff the ballot box of future elections with, cheap, uneducated voters.

    January 5, 2011 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  4. Dave

    I think Richard Lugar is a fine Senator and I've never voted for a Republican in my entire life. I don't always agree with his views, but he's a classy and very intelligent person. Members of the Tea Party, on the other hand, behave like a bunch of petulant, spoiled children who are too dumb to understand something without having it explained to them. It doesn't matter anyway. When these idiots realize that they actually have to govern instead of just running their big mouths, it will be a wake-up call.

    January 5, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Fettig and Boyer are idiots. Anyone to the left of Idi Amin is not worthy to be supported by the baggers. Lugar was, on occasion, someone with the ability to reason. Support of START and the Dream Act make Lugar a democrat? Do all baggers have an IQ that matches the winter temperature in Indiana?

    January 5, 2011 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  6. slipthalo

    The Tea Partiers in Indiana nee to target Dan Burton who is an embarrassment to the state. Leave Lugar alone.

    January 5, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. A.D.

    business, i mean politics as usual!

    January 5, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. Ex-Republican

    I don't think he should have had the breakfast with this bunch of losers to begin with. They now think that they are in control of our party. That's like having the tail wag the dog. The Tea Party had better learn how to get in with the party line, or we'll simply stop funding their efforts. It's that simple.

    Oh and by the way, the party had better grow a back-bone and tell that fool Sarah we won't allow her to run. She's served us well, but now it's time for her to fade into the background so that our guys can get their campaigns together without her distractions.

    January 5, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Being ideologues are going to be a problem if they stick to their principles without undertanding the need to be flexible. This could stop things from getting done. That is going to be the bigger problem.

    January 5, 2011 09:15 am at 9:15 am |