What is the future of the Tea Party?

Did group help or hurt Republicans in 2012 elections?


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," November 23, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Welcome back, everybody.

Less than three weeks since the election and a divide is widening, not between Democrats and Republicans, however. The divide is between conservatives, Tea Party types, and more traditional Republicans, sometimes called establishment.

Peggy Noonan, once again, take a listen.


PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think the Tea Party is going to have to look at itself.

The Tea Party style of rage is not one that wins over converts and makes people lean toward them and say, I want to listen to you.


BOLLING: OK. Now, listen to Laura Ingraham defending the conservative wing of the party.


LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: The work of the Tea Party folks and the energy that they brought to the fore, Republicans would be in a disaster right now.


BOLLING: OK. And you wonder why 3 million fewer Republicans showed up to the voting booths this election cycle -- Kimberly.


KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Yes, it bothers me. I stood outside for two hours in New York where I knew my vote was going to get watered down the drain. I mean, why didn't people come out? Why? Because they were weren't impassioned enough about Mitt Romney, they didn't know his bio, they didn't know what he stood for, they weren't certain what his economic plan were? Well, we're going to keep prom king and see if he goes center, like Bob said. Good idea.

BOLLING: Can these two wings of the party find a middle ground?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: I think so. But I don't necessarily think it has to be a middle ground, but there are basic principles that everybody can agree on. I like the big tent thing, and I think there have been variations of the Tea Party since 1776. You look at 1992 election when Ross Perot ran, they were similar principle at stake, which was government spending. And it wasn't so much about social issues at the time.

So I think there are ways. We just had -- we'd just have better candidates and that's across the board.

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: You put your finger on it -- you go back to Barry Goldwater versus Nelson Rockefeller, the establishment battles versus the conservatives since 1964.

GUILFOYLE: Very interesting.

BECKEL: It's always been somebody who steps forward to take the mantle of the big tent, Ronald Reagan being the classic examples of it. You don't have to abandon your principles for a minute to be a more pragmatic political force. And that's the difference. But it takes some voice to make that pretty clear.

You can't have all these Republican people try to negotiate. You need somebody and the problem is you don't have anybody right now.

BOLLING: Brian, how did the left unite? They coalesced, the left did, around Barack Obama.

BRIAN KILMEADE, GUEST CO-HOST: Amazing, too, because as Bob knows better than anyone, it was the presidential campaign when they didn't really help out other the candidates. They really said, hey, listen, we've got to focus on just getting this guy elected, you're kind of pretty much on your own.

And I think they were somewhat, in my opinion, somewhat in awe of Barack Obama, what he's done at such a young age, he was never really one of the guys who's been there for 40 years and decides to run like Senator Dole and Senator McCain.

But I was pretty much in awe in the midterm elections of what the Tea Party did.


KILMEADE: I've never seen anything quite like it.

BOLLIGN: Very good point. Even in this election, the Tea Party's real strength, Bob, was the down ticket.

BECKEL: Well, down ticket, it's probably somewhat of a strength. But let's remember, there were twice as many people who voted in 2012 than there were 2010, where they really had an impact. And I don't take away from their emotional, grabbing hold of the fiscal issue, but it does have a problem because there's not a social agenda attached to that.

But beyond that, I think that the Tea Party represents to me the Goldwater-ites of '64 and somehow they got together. Richard Nixon pulled them together, I don't know how, but one of -- do you know what energizes Democrats more than anything else, there was a period of time for about three weeks where we thought Obama was going lose, and we're going to lose the Senate and the House was going to be Republican. That scared the heck out of us, all of us, and that was a -- that was a period when all of a sudden they said, wait a minute, we could have two more people like Alito on the Supreme Court.

PERINO: Well, and I think power is a very important thing and unseating an incumbent is very difficult. It hasn't happened very often. We usually give our presidents a second chance.

But I think that Obama's language on fair shot and fair share was persuasive enough to a lot of people, but I think it could have been met with fair shot, fair share. You know what, this government and the way that it's going is holding you back, and the reason you have -- you consider yourself lower middle class, because you can't get ahead because the government is holding you back. That's --


GUILFOYLE: That's persuasive rhetoric, yes.

BOLLING: Without a couple of major league flubs over the last two election cycles, the Senate very well could be Republican, and there are a lot of Tea Party people who did win Senate seats.

GUILFOYLE: Absolutely. They've been a commendable force, in terms of -- yes, of motivation, momentum, raising money, their get out the vote. They have been very good. They're doing better in many respects than the rest of the Republicans.

PERINO: Sometimes they cut off their noses --

BECKEL: And it doesn't change the fact that the Tea Party candidates, five of them should have won, they didn't.


GUILFOYLE: There's a couple of them that shouldn't have been put through, OK?

BECKEL: Let's not take anything away also from Obama's organizational skills in this campaign. I've never seen anything like it.

BOLLING: We're talking Senate right now.

BECKEL: I understand that.

BOLLING: Because here's the issue I brought up, Bob.

BECKEL: You have been in charge of the Senate hadn't been for the Tea Party.

GUILFOYLE: They should have taken the Senate.

BOLLING: Here's what I said. I said earlier in the show, if the Tea Party stuck with their original plan of fiscal conservative values, the Senate would likely be Republican, because these two geniuses this year, who decided to go on and on, and talk about rape -- don't ever mention female body parts again if you're Republican. It's not advisable.


BECKEL: And what about the people they nominated in Nevada and Delaware --


BECKEL: -- and Colorado?

BOLLING: And those are four that should have gone Republican.

KILMEADE: I'm just going to correct you so you don't get e-mails. If you're a Republican and a gynecologist, you should mention female parts.

BOLLING: Perhaps.

KILMEADE: And two number, it's as simple as this. Have a screening process for candidates, more than great guy, nice guy, say what kind of experience do you have? And put them through a candidate's boot camp. For example, if you watched the times in which they've talked about rape and talked about abortion, it was unbelievable how inexperienced they looked to handle a question, so --

GUILFOYLE: Ill-equipped.

BECKEL: And maybe get a party platform that doesn't make it so absolute on abortion.

BOLLING: We got to leave it there. We got it leave it there. That's a big one.

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