Former Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) is relieved the Tea Party won few victories during the 2012 election season, he said in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday.
Lugar told host Chuck Todd he believes the Tea Party creates divisions within the GOP and pushes away Democrats, creating "a rift" and doing the party a major disservice.
"Republicans who really want to see a majority in the Senate know that in order to do that, there really have to be able candidates, or able to go the route, who have a sense, at least, of independent thought that appeals not only to core Republicans, but likewise to many independent voters," Lugar said.
Lugar called out inflexible, ultra-conservative Republicans for hindering the party's success. He said he believes the opposition to the nomination for former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) for defense secretary was "grounded in the resentments of some conservatives inside and outside the Senate who regard [Hagel's] independent thinking as political blasphemy."
During the 2012 election, Lugar was ousted from his senate seat when he lost his primary to Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock.
Mourdock campaigned on a platform opposing bipartisan compromise and made headlines with his controversial claim that a pregnancy from rape was something "god intended to happen." Lugar refused to support Mourdock's campaign and Mourdock later lost to the Democrat, then-Rep. Joe Donnelly.