CHICAGO (CBS) — The “Occupy Wall Street” protests have begun to turn into a nationwide movement. The Democratic Party is taking notice.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that he can sympathize with the protesters on the need for changes in campaign finance law and for investigations into the lending practices of institutions that received federal bailout money. But he said going beyond demonstrations to fielding Democratic candidates, the way the Tea Party has done in the Republican Party, will not be as easy.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

“It is possible that they will mature to that level, but each step beyond showing their strong feelings in public becomes more complex and difficult,” he said. “You start getting into internal fights about what we really stand for and how far will we go.”

Durbin said most political movements — small and large — have had to go through that growing process, and said it is “painful.”

Despite that, he said grass-roots movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party can have an advantage in primary elections, because of a dedicated and loyal following that is motivated to vote when the turnout is usually much smaller than for general elections.

He said the “Occupy” movement has mastered the use of social media to get its point across — and guarantee turnout for its protests.

Watch & Listen LIVE