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Romney urges tea party: Don't run third party candidates

In an interview with the conservative website, Mitt Romney said he loved the tea party movement -- as long as they don't hurt Republicans.

"I'm really pleased that the silent majority is silent no longer," the former Massachusetts governor said.

But he cautions that if a conservative tea party candidate runs in a general election, that would siphon votes away from a Republican candidate, and "divide and fail is the result. "That would hand over the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed." Romney hopes that tea party candidates will instead run in primaries, and if they lose will back the more conservative candidate in the general election.

Romney also said he backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) against a conservative primary challenger because the senator had "wisdom and judgment," along with a better chance of winning. Rush Limbaugh called the endorsement "tone deaf" and "suicidal."

Tea party-backed candidates have so far found little success in primaries or special elections.

By Rachel Weiner  |  March 9, 2010; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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"The Tea Party defines economic conservatism more strictly than most Republicans in Congress would — the Tea Party agrees about the need to do away with earmarks, but the Contract, for example, also includes a proposal to scrap the tax code and replace it with one no longer than 4,543 words (a number chosen to match the length of the Constitution, unamended.) It would limit the growth of federal spending to inflation plus the percentage of population growth and require a two-thirds majority for any tax increase."

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | March 13, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Alright, Tea Party Folks - I love everything you are doing but don't mess up this opportunity for a Republican Presisent in 2012. Read Mitt Romney's book - he is singing your song. And there isn't another Republican or Tea Partier who has a better shot at winning the general election than Mitt Romney. I live in a state that very rarely has a Republican governor, for one reason: because the conservatives of the state (and yes, I am one) dominate the primary election and we never elect a candidate in the Primary that can win a General in my state! There's no victory in that. We just get another Democrat. So, think this through carefully - Romney fits what this country needs and he CAN win. But we need to unite in our backing of him. Does he fit every conservative agenda item perfectly? No. But he's close. Like I said, read his book. And do the reality check: do you want that author or the one we have now running the country?

Posted by: CITIZEN6 | March 12, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Because Romney thinks Tea Partiers could care less what he thinks? He is a face of the problem that needs to be rectified.

Posted by: sailingaway1 | March 10, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"But he cautions that if a conservative tea party candidate runs in a general election, that would siphon votes away from a Republican candidate, and "divide and fail is the result."

eh, Mitt two things first you sound afraid and second ... if the Republicans dont run in the general ... you wont siphon votes away from us ... Mitt ... come on ... dont ask us not to run ...
why dont you NOT RUN YOURSELF ...
amazingly arrogant of you not to have thought about how this looks on the our perspective.

Things have changed Mr. Buggywhip ... Deep down inside you know this to be true ...

Now you have to ask yourself one question ...
Do you want to be the guy remembered as the establishment Republican candidate that lost to the tea party candidate ... and then from there go back into the business world with that ???

You are a businessman Mitt ... the tea party candidate losing is not the same low probability outcome it was in the past.

Very career establishment politician of you to like us to have a short memory ...

We the tea party ... you know who we are ... the Ron Paul Republicans ... We remember
the way Ron Paul was treated ...

Do want to face us again ... with you loosing momentum and while us gaining momentum ...

You are on the wrong side of this trade Mitt.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | March 9, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Romney doesn't know a lot about running but he sure knows quitting. A person who thinks McCain has wisdom and judgement is not very smart.

Posted by: racam | March 9, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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