On this Sunday's Meet the Press, Lindsey Graham was asked whether the "tea party" Republicans are going to line up behind the nomination of Mitt Romney even though what he represents is everything they supposedly despise. Graham lets one slip here with his admission that those so-called tea partiers are just more corporate backed big business supporters in the Congress. I found it ironic that Graham also said that the attack ads in the GOP primary and the primary dragging out for too long isn't helpful to their candidate, but he still refused to say he'd vote for Romney in the South Carolina primary.
Of course what's taboo on these networks is the admission that the "tea party" is nothing but a Republican rebranding effort to get the Bush-stink off of the label, promoted by the Koch brothers and a bunch of AstroTurfers pretending to be a grass roots movement.
And regardless of his denial that he knows who he's going to vote for here, we all know Graham isn't going to cross his BFF McCain who's firmly in Romney's camp now. And they all know that Gingrich and Santorum and Perry refusing to get out of the race is just a way to assure that Romney gets the nomination. Perry was going to drop out an then changed his mind. I have to wonder if that decision came after a phone call from the Romney campaign asking him to stay in and help to continue to split the vote in these early primary races. The Big Money Boyz have picked their candidate and they're not going to allow anything to get in the way of that.
Full transcript below the fold.
MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you both this, and, and Congressman Scott, you were a tea party-backed candidate in your state, and there's been a lot of talk about the role of the tea party. Leader Reid just talked about it, its influence in Washington. This was something that caught my eye from the Financial Times, the Ed Luce column where he says the following, "Most people expected the tea party to shape the 2012 election. It certainly dominated the Republican primary. Yet the one credible contender it has produced embodies everything the tea party despises, an even-keeled, calculating pragmatist who conveys complacency rather than rage. In an age of populist discontent, America is shaping up for a battle between two Ivy League graduates who will battle over the middle ground. It will be interesting to see what happens to all that passion beneath them."
Senator Graham, you, you've never thought that the tea party as a political movement could survive.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, what I said is that the tea party is associated with changing an out-of-control government. Most Americans associate themselves that we're too far in debt and we spend to much. The tea party movement, Tim Scott is a rising star in, in the Republican Party nationwide, not just South Carolina. He gets as much chamber of commerce support as he does tea party. The tea party people in South Carolina are basically Ronald Reagan conservatives. Yes, other--people other than Mitt Romney could beat Barack Obama. He has been a very unproductive president. And the question for the country is do you expect your life to change if you give Barack Obama a second term to keep doing the same things he's done in his first term?
This is our election to lose, and the only way we're going to lose it, if we go too long in time in terms of the primary and our attacks go too far. We haven't done that yet. As long as we keep this in bounds, you know, Bush said that Reagan's politics of--economic politics were voodoo, and they wound up being Reagan-Bush and won. So we haven't done damage to ourselves yet. But Tim's right, be careful what you say. South Carolina's looking at your hard. We're going to pick the most electable conservative, and Mitt Romney is a good man the tea party people should look at closely as a--to vote for, because I think he can beat Barack Obama.
REP. SCOTT: Right.
SEN. GRAHAM: And I think that's all of our goals.
MR. GREGORY: But you're not endorsing him or are you prepared to do that?
SEN. GRAHAM: I don't even know who I'm going to vote for because I know that what happens in South Carolina that we pick presidents here, and this is the best chance I've seen in years for the Republican Party to revive itself, prove to the country that we can lead and we can govern...
MR. GREGORY: Right. All right.
SEN. GRAHAM: ...and to end this Obama administration.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Scott, I have to ask you to be brief.
SEN. GRAHAM: So I don't know who I'm going to vote for yet.
MR. GREGORY: Be brief, 15 seconds. Is Romney, in your view, a tea party candidate?
REP. SCOTT: I would say that we have five strong candidates running for president in the Republican--in the nomination process right now. Is Romney a tea party candidate? I'd probably say that he's the least of the candidates running for president right now that would be considered a tea party candidate.
MR. GREGORY: OK.
REP. SCOTT: The question really is, can he win? Any Republican nominee is better than the president we currently have.
MR. GREGORY: All right. We're, we're going to leave it there. Gentlemen, thank you both very much. We'll be watching the vote.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you.