Why The Tea Party Debate Matters

Picture From The First Tea Party Sponsored Presidential Debate

Sizing Up At The First Tea Party Sponsored Presidential Debate

Bookmark and Share    On September 12, 2011, The Tea Party co-sponsored a G.O.P. Presidential Debate in Tampa, Florida.  Though there have been and will be many more opportunities to see the G.O.P. presidential hopefuls duke it out for the top spot as the Party nominee, tonight’s debate bares particular importance.  The Republican party has not had to gauge the temperature of constituents so disgusted and so organized.  If any Republican hopeful wants to make it into the Whitehouse in 2012, they will have to go through the tea party. 

Nothing made this more evident than the mid-term elections of 2010.  After the disappointing passage of Obama’s healthcare bill, the Tea Party started to swell.  Understanding there would be more power staying in the Republican Party than leaving to become a third-party (as shown by the Libertarian Party),  the Tea Party hand-picked and back candidates all over the country to run for congress, state, and local elections all over the nation.  They did so successfully, particularly in the South (which matters because of the importance of the South Carolina primary).  Several incumbent, career politicians found out they were going to become unemployed during state primaries all summer of 2010.  It was a reminder to all of a great political-insider mantra: all politics is local.  Primary winners for the Republican Party spanned the gambit.  Sarah Palin  became the unsung superhero for the Tea Party movement; endorsing candidates all over the country with Tea Party power in her utility belt.   From dark horse Christine O’ Donnell with The Wicca scandal, to new comer Allen West becoming the first black Florida congressman since reconstruction, the Tea Party voters made the difference in these political contests.  In primaries, they were the deciding factor.  If a candidate can’t strategize past a primary, strategizing for a general election is in vain.

Why is this so? Essentially, the Tea Party vote is significant enough to hijack primaries.  With Republicans winning majority in The House of Representatives in the last election cycle, crypt-keeper reminiscent, RINO Republicans and the status quo took note.   With the corruption perceived corruption of campaign finance and lobbyist, the equalizer is still our constitutional right which equates one man to one vote without regard to socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity or creed. The 2012 primaries will be referendums by Tea Party supporters on who would best serve as the next POTUS.  The Tea Party can no longer be dismissed.  They are the voice of reckoning.  No matter what one’s sentiment is toward tea party issues, activists or voters,  the truth of the matter will be this:  the candidate that can garner and sustain Tea Party support throughout the primary will most likely be the candidate that meets Obama in the general election.  Debates that tout tea party connections and involvement will serve as the litmus test for all the contenders.

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Rand Paul Visits South Carolina

Bookmark and ShareKentucky Senator and TEA Party favorite Rand Paul could be testing the 2012 presidential waters with a trip to South Carolina.

The son of Texas Rep., 2008 GOP presidential candidate and possible 2012 candidate Ron Paul, Rand is appeared this afternoon before the College of Charelston’s “Bully Pulpit” series to talk about Libya, his possible 2012 interest and the national debt. He is scheduled to appear this evening before the Charelston Meeting, a center right, invitation only organization that invites politicians to address it’s membership strictly off the record.

Paul, like his father a Tea Party favorite, who won his Senate seat last fall, is visiting several early presidential voting states independently of his father. The only answer he will give regarding his own Presidential aspirations is, “The only decision I’ve made is I won’t run against my dad,” he said, adding that he wants to see the Tea Party influence the 2012 GOP nominee.

So how many Paul’s will there be on the ballot come 2012? Just one according to Rand. Which one however remains a mystery.

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Mitt Romney’s TEA Problem

Bookmark and Share A mixed message came out of the recent straw poll of New Hampshire Republican Party power players. While Romney won the poll and defeated a field of more than 20 names by surpassing his closest rival by as much as 24%, the same people who voted in that poll also elected a TEA Party candidate as the Chairman of the New Hampshire G.O.P.. The election of TEA Party backed Jack Kimball over the establishment candidate was a clear signal that conservative outsiders were increasing their influence and beginning to dominate over moderate political insiders.

The initial wins of Romney in the straw poll and Jack Kimball in the election for Party chair, may on the surface seem related and an indication that the former Governor of Massachusetts is fairing well among TEA Party voters. However a closer look reveals that only a bit more than half of those who voted for Kimball in the election for Chairman, voted in the straw poll. And of those with TEA Party sentiments, their vote was divided between a number of favorites, including second place finisher Ron Paul, fourth place finisher Sarah Palin, followed by Michelle Bachmann-5th place, Jim DeMInt-6th place, Herman Cain-7th place, and arguably Gary Johnson-16th place. Their combined total percentage was one point shy of Mitt Romneys 35% share of the vote.

This begs the question, if the TEA Party got behind one candidate, could they pick the winner of the New Hampshire presidential primary, just as they did the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Party?

This is a question which Mitt Romney must look at closely. Up to now, Romney has seemingly had a bad taste for TEA Party politics.

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney has kept Tea Party activists at arms length. And while some like Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and even Haley Barbour seem to be going out of their way to court influential TEA Party leaders, the chairman of New Hampshires TEA Party influenced Republican Liberty Caucus, Andrew Hemingway, claims Romney for the most part is inaccessible,” and adds. Pawlenty, I could call him right now and say, Let’s have coffee.’ ”

An advisor to Romney suggested that Romneys issues are the TEA Partys issues when told the Boston Globes Matt Viser I would hope the kind of issues the Tea Party cares about are issues he can address and will address,”.

The answer is a sensible one but it does not address the politics behind the politics. Part of that game is perception. In fact politics is all about perception and currently, in this atmosphere of pro anti-establishment sentiments, Mitt Romney is rapidly being perceived as an establishment candidate, a position that will not be to his benefit in the long run.

By all rights, Mitt Romney should be a clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. In many aspects he is, but only by the most tentative of definitions. Part of the reason for that is distrust among conservatives who are not convinced that his right-to-life conversion from his pro-choice stance is genuine and another part is widespread dissatisfaction with the fact that as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a state version of Obamacare before Obamacare ever came to fruition. This has Romney entering the race for the Republican nomination as a flip-flopping, big government Republican. Is that an accurate description? In truth, it isnt. But unless Mitt Romney embraces the strongest elements of the thriving, decisive, small government TEA Party wing of the G.O.P., he will not have a snowballs chance in hell of changing that perception.

Romney could be trying to keep the TEA Party at arms length because he fears that being linked too closely to them will hurt his chances in the general election. For that reason he could be wanting to distinguish himself from others like Sarah Palin, who risk being perceived as too extreme. Rudy Giuliani recently revealed that as his own strategy in a potential bid for the G.O.P. nomination. Romney could also be hoping that just as was the case in the New Hampshire straw poll, maybe a crowded field of TEA Party favorites like Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, and others, could split the TEA movement vote and allow him to walk right up the middle.

If that is his strategy, he needs to plot a new one.

He should take a lesson from John McCains failed campaign and realize that the same people whoRomney is keeping at a distance, are the same people who were not thrilled by John McCain as our nominee and the same people who sat on their hands in the general election. He should also realize that for many Republicans, Sarah Palin was the only thing that energized McCains candidacy. In other words, Romney can not become President without embracing the TEA movement and without the TEA movement embracing him.

It’s time to talk TEA Mitt. You may not want to start campaigning too early, but you have a lot of repairs to make before you let the train leave the station and now is as good a time as any to start fixing them.

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