Thursday, 15 October 2009

Graham-Paul Dispute Highlights GOP Fissure

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Ron PaulAn outburst at an angry South Carolina town hall meeting has exemplified the growing fissure in the Republican Party across the nation. “We're not going to be the party of angry white guys," liberal Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told a Greenville, South Carolina, audience at Furman University where some supporters of Congressman Ron Paul were heckling him.

Ron Paul responded on CNN's Situation Room October 14 that Graham's attack was unfair. “For him to ... say that everybody who is upset with the government and upset with his type of voting record are angry white people or angry men, that is preposterous. That is a real insult.” Rep. Paul termed his rallies “very diverse.”

The controversy highlights the growing fissure among members of the Republican Party nationwide.

Prompted by outbursts from loud, rude, but exceptionally well-informed voters, the liberal and interventionist Graham told the audience he was a pro-life conservative while being taunted with chants “Sotamayor,” reminding him and the other members of the audience about his vote to put pro-abortion liberal Sonia Sotamayor on the Supreme Court. Graham told the audience that he was staying in the Republican Party and “I'm not going to let it get hijacked by Ron Paul. I'm not a libertarian.”

Graham then went on the attack against Rep. Paul, saying that “we're not going to be the Ron Paul party.” Graham then falsely told the audience that “Ron Paul is a fiscal conservative, but he said George Bush was a war criminal.”

Asked on MSNBC's Ed Show about his supporters' boisterous — but unquestionably well-informed — antics at Greenville's Furman University, Rep. Paul noted that he advises his followers to follow the rules of polite society, a practice he personally practices. “I tell them to use the proper decorum.... Even when Bush was president, and I just couldn't stand his foreign policy, I never went after President Bush... and I don't do this with Obama.”

The leftist host of MSNBC's Ed Show, Ed Schultz, was undoubtedly reveling in the fissure among Republicans. “It looks like you are becoming a target of the Republican Party. How do you feel about that?” Rep. Paul stressed that every House Republican has cosponsored his Audit the Fed bill, H.R. 1207: “What about the fact that I have every single Republican on the audit bill in the House of Representatives?” Rep. Paul also has 120 Democratic sponsors for the legislation.

Graham told the Furman University audience that “I'm not going to leave the party; I'm going to grow the party.” But with the notable exception of Rep. Paul's presidential campaign last year, many GOP rallies last year did indeed look like Grand Old Party (with an emphasis on the word “old”) rallies. The neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party represented by Graham represents an aging and shrinking electoral demographic.

Rep. Paul told the Ed Show that “we're the ones who reach the college kids, the young people. How many Republicans really reach the teenagers and the college kids. Those are the people that are gathering at our rallies. And they have to ask why. What are they going to do with the party ... pandering to the old country club Republicans and acting like Democrats and bailout funds and TARP funds? Those kind of things just won't hold up for the Republican Party. That's why the Republican Party has been losing. And we're suggesting that they live up to what they profess to believe in.”

Photo: AP Images

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