Sen. Dick Lugar said challenges by Tea Party candidates are partly to blame for the Republicans not having a majority in the Senate.
Lugar, a six-term Republican senator from Indiana, is up for re-election in 2012 and facing a primary challenge from a Tea Party-backed Republican opponent.
Lugar told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he's the best chance for the GOP to hold on to his Senate seat, and that similar challenges by Tea Party candidates are part of the reason Republicans are in the minority in the Senate.
"Republicans lost the seats before in Nevada and New Jersey for example and Colorado where there were people who claimed that they wanted somebody who was more of their Tea Party aspect, but in doing so they killed off the Republican chances for majority," he said. "This is one of the reasons why we have a minority in the Senate right now."
Lugar -- who has been critical of the Tea Party in the past -- implied that if Tea Party supporters want to see Republican seat gains in 2012, they'll support the candidates who have the best chance of winning, and that means the existing Senate Republicans.
"A Republican majority in the Senate is very important and Republicans who are running for re-election ought to be supported by people who want to see that majority," he said. "I think the majority of Tea Party people understand that, too."
Watch the clip below, via CNN. Comments about the Tea Party begin at the 4:00 mark: