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
"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.
Continuing with the Tea Party series, I thought what Romney said was quite appropriate. Earlier, I said that the GOP could use the Tea Party, and in fact needs the Tea Party, because the Tea Party has engaged the "silent majority" to be silent no longer. Then, in the second part of the series, I showed that while the GOP needs the Tea Party, it also needs to make sure to silence and repudiate the "crazy parts" and the fringe of the tea party in order to make sure that the whole is not defined by the rotten few.
Here, I think what Romney says is that while the GOP needs the Tea Party, the Tea Party also needs the GOP. It may be the more conservative part of the Republican Party, but it is undeniably part of the Republican Party. A limb cannot survive without the body, but the body can survive without a limb.
If the Tea Party were to put more conservative candidates in the primaries, that would be great. Let the voters decide. But if the Republican voters choose a more progressive or moderate candidate, like Brown, then the Tea Party needs to honor that choice and try elsewhere. To try and then push someone as a third, more conservative party, would only mean that both the conservative and the republican candidate would split votes, and what would happen? I think Romney said it best: It would "...hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."
Crossposted at Republicans United