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March 9th, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Romney to Tea Party movement: No third party bids

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/09/art.romney.0305.gi.jpg caption="Mitt Romney on Monday warned members of the Tea Party movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections."]

Peter Hamby
CNN Political Producer

Mitt Romney has a message to Tea Party candidates nationwide: If you lose your Republican primary bids, stay on the sidelines.

The former Massachusetts governor on Monday warned the grassroots movement not to mount third party efforts in general elections, which he said would siphon votes from Republican nominees.

"If there is a conservative candidate that runs in the general election, then obviously, divide and fail is the result," Romney said in an interview with the conservative Web site Newsmax. "Hopefully Tea Party candidates will run in respective primaries and they will either win or lose. And if they win, they will go into the general. If they lose, they won't, and they will get behind the more conservative of the two finalists."

Romney explained that "dividing our conservative effort in the general elections" would "basically hand the country to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and that would be very sad indeed."

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Filed under: Mitt Romney • Peter Hamby • Tea Party
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