Will Tea Party Become America's Third Political Party?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: A new Wall Street Journal poll says there is a big political change going on in America right now. Thirty-five percent of Americans see the Democratic Party favorably. Twenty-eight percent say they like the Republican Party. But a whopping 41 percent now say they support the Tea Party, which is stunning when you think about it.

So will the Tea Party become America's third political party? Joining us from Washington, Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, an organization that trains Tea Party politicians. And here in the studio, Fox News analyst Mike Gallagher, a radio talk show host. Now you're a Republican, right?


O'REILLY: OK, so the Tea Party is now, I think, threatening the Republican Party. Just — this is almost the exact opposite of what we just talked about, where the far left is threatening the Democratic Party. Now the Tea Party is threatening the Republican Party.

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GALLAGHER: I've happily traded my Republican card for a Tea Party card, if there was such a thing.

O'REILLY: Really?


O'REILLY: The Tea Party organizes for a 2012 presidential run, say they nominate a Sarah Palin or somebody like that, you'd bail?

GALLAGHER: All over it. I would become their biggest cheerleader. Millions of Americans would, too. Bill, it's the perfect storm. Now's the time. I mean, this far outweighs the revolutionary aspect supposedly of even Ron Paul or before that.

O'REILLY: OK, but let's be realistic.

GALLAGHER: Ross Perot.

O'REILLY: Very, very hard to develop because of the rules, voting rules, money and everything else of a viable third party. But you, Mike Gallagher, who have been a Republican, you know…

GALLAGHER: All my life.

O'REILLY: …OK, are willing to throw the Republican Party under the bus. Why? What's wrong with the GOP?

GALLAGHER: There's a lot wrong with the GOP. The GOP Isn't acting like the GOP anymore, and the Republican leadership, many men and women I admire, are acting like we have to go to the middle. We have to go — we have.

O'REILLY: So they're too wimpy?

GALLAGHER: Well, yeah, but they're afraid. They're afraid to play ball the way the left play balls. I mean, these guys play hard ball. You know what the radical left is like. And even moderate Republicans are afraid to roll up their sleeves. The Tea Party spirit, and I was all over the country. I spoke at rallies in Dallas and South Carolina and Los Angeles. The movement is passionate.


GALLAGHER: It's energized and it's significant, Bill.

O'REILLY: Mr. Ryun, what is the key to somebody watching now? We're in about 90 countries all over the world. So somebody watching us now in, say, Africa, and they don't understand what the Tea Party is all about. Give me one or two sentences to sum it up.

NED RYUN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MAJORITY: It's a group of very concerned and growing American citizens, who are deeply concerned about the fiscal issues that we're confronting, the idea and the role of government, and the role it should play in people's lives…

O'REILLY: So smaller government.

RYUN: ...and the lack of real political leadership — exactly.

O'REILLY: Smaller government, less government spending, less intrusion at the federal level.

RYUN: Exactly.

O'REILLY: More power locally. Social issues? Social issues? What is that?

RYUN: You know, here's the thing. I would say a lot of them are socially conservative, but the issues that are driving them are the ideas of limited government, fiscal responsibility. And if I could go back a little bit to what Mike was saying earlier, you know, I think the thing that we're confronting, and again, this is a very positive poll, I think, to show 41 percent approval.

O'REILLY: Oh, absolutely. It's a stunning poll. Forty-one percent of Americans like the Tea Party?

RYUN: Exactly. But one of the things that I'm trying to do is communicate to those that are involved in the trainings that American Majority does — we did about 154 this year in 26 different states is that here's the political reality you're confronted with: history and very constricted state laws. Now you're confronted with a system that maybe isn't perfect. How are you going to enact the best (INAUDIBLE).

O'REILLY: Well, look, if you want a viable third party, you got to break it down. I mean, you just got to kick the door in like Perot did and other people did.

GALLAGHER: And you've got to have candidates who are attractive.

O'REILLY: Right.

RYUN: But here's the thing.

O'REILLY: Well, Palin's (INAUDIBLE) candidate.

GALLAGHER: Sure she is.

RYUN : America — the American political system is a two-party system. I don't believe that there can be three major parties. One…

O'REILLY: You don't believe there can be? You don't believe there can be three?

RYUN: No, I don't.

O'REILLY: So you want the Tea Party to take over the Republican Party?

RYUN: Why not?

O'REILLY: I don't know. I don't care.

GALLAGHER: Yeah, but wait a minute.

O'REILLY: I just want to know what your strategy is.

RYUN: But here's the thing. A party is merely a vehicle by which people achieve political ends. It's just a name.

O'REILLY: OK, that's fine.

GALLAGHER: But guys, I don't know why the — but, Ned, I don't know why the Tea Party can't marry the Republican Party. I don't know why there can't be a merging because a lot of the solid Republican ideals…

RYUN: Exactly.

GALLAGHER: ...are being lost. And that's why the Tea Party is emerging.

O'REILLY: So you want, you both want, it's easier obviously that Tea Party would overwhelm the moderate wing of the Republican Party…


…and they would all come over to the Tea Party?

GALLAGHER: Well, that's a tough word. I don't know about overwhelm. I mean, be welcomed, you know, be — ingratiate themselves.


GALLAGHER: Nothing wrong with that. That's a good thing.

RYUN: I would say, Bill, infuse the party with those principles that have made us a great nation.


RYUN: You know, it used to be the Republican Party actually believed in these principles.

O'REILLY: OK, but if there's a primary that runs Romney against Palin or something like that, then you might have what you want. Because if Palin would win the primary, then she would take the Tea Party philosophy, obviously put it in her platform. So that's interesting. So rather than go to a third party and all of that horror…

RYUN: Right.

O'REILLY: ...you want to basically overthrow the moderates, bring in the Tea Party philosophy and let that rule the GOP. It's very interesting because that's what's going to happen on the other side, too.

GALLAGHER: It is. That's what they're doing on the left.

O'REILLY: Yeah, that's what they're doing on the left.

RYUN: Really what I want to see…

O'REILLY: Go ahead, real quick.

RYUN: What I want to see, Bill, is a return to those principles that have made us great.



RYUN: And you can call those Republican values. You can call them Tea Party…

O'REILLY: And that's fine.

RYUN: ...but the ideas of limited government, fiscal responsibility…

O'REILLY: But fascinating about this discussion is the far left wants to take over the Democratic Party, and the Tea Party people want to take over the Republican.

GALLAGHER: It's time for torches and pitchforks.

O'REILLY: Thanks very much.

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