Sen. Olympia Snowe Slams Tea Party Rise in GOP

The moderate Republican warns that there's no such thing as ideological purity.

By Jamilah King Sep 17, 2010

The Tea Party continued to make its mark on national politics this week when Rep. Mike Castle lost his Delaware primary to Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell. While the news certainly isn’t good for Democrats, Sen. Olympia Snowe pointed out yesterday that it’s potentially worse for the GOP as it tries to win the majority on the House and Senate. Snowe, once part of a cadre of moderate Republicans from New England that’s slowly eroded over the past decade, says moderates can’t be endangered because "ideological purity at 100 percent is a utopian world." In an interview with [CNN Political Ticker]( held yesterday on the Senate floor, Snowe made her case, saying: > "Understand, there are a lot of issues that, for example, in the Tea Party that they raise that are legitimate issues. Did we abandon our basic principles of fiscal responsibility? Absolutely. I was arguing those points during the Bush administration," Snowe said emphatically, "I made those very arguments." > > "Congress isn’t working right and it’s not working well, and I share that frustration and anger. They’re angry? So am I," Snowe said as her voice got louder, "I’m angry, because I work here ever day and I want things to be different. I’m here to solve problems to make people happy, not to make them sad and angry," Snowe insisted. > > "It doesn’t stand to reason that the Republican Party would want to exclude moderate Republicans if they want to be a majority party. Those are mutually exclusive propositions," Snowe said. > > At times, as the Maine Republican talked about this issue, she became exasperated. > > "Ideological purity at 100 percent is a utopian world and I don’t know who lives in utopia. I’ve never lived in utopia," said Snowe. > We’ve also seen that ideological purity may actually be working against some Tea Party favorites. In Florida, conservative Republican [Marco Rubio]( has had to step back from his most divisive rhetoric and disavow some of his Tea Party base. It’s been speculated that voters in Florida are simply turned off by big talk and little substance.