About time Michael Steele wakes up to the fact that the Tea Party patriots aren’t a fringe group consisting mainly of right-wing conservatives as he hasbeen lead to believe. I don’t think he quite understands yet exactly how effectively our movement is going to make or break the republican party depending on their actions.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele plans to sit down with about 50 Tea Party leaders Tuesday in the first such meeting of two wings of the conservative movement that could be either vital partners or bitter rivals.
The meeting is part of a broader effort by national Republicans to reach out to Tea Party activists rather than risk their hand-picked candidates being run over by the movement.
“The chairman believes it extremely important to listen to this significant grassroots movement and work to find common ground in order to elect officials that will protect these principles,” RNC spokeswoman Katie Wright said.
But one Tea Party activist who traveled hundreds of miles to attend the meeting at RNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., said sparks could fly.
“Steele wants to try to co-opt us, but we’re coming to tell him he doesn’t get it. We want to return the Republican Party to its roots. We’re expecting some fireworks,” the activist said.
Tea Party supporters identify far more with the Republican platform than the Democratic Party’s, but they have not been shy about voicing their discontent with elected Republicans and running against the party’s favored candidates. They threw an upstate New York congressional race into disarray last fall when they backed a third-party candidate over Republican Dede Scozzafava, forcing her out of the race. Democrat Bill Owens won the special election.
Tea Party activists have since targeted multiple Republicans they don’t feel are conservative enough, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett.
There is no single Tea Party group or individual in charge of the activists, but the movement has been trying to become more organized and focused. Tea Party organizers from across the country attended a national convention two weeks ago in Nashville, where they discussed strategy for this year’s midterm elections.
Some Republican figures, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, view the movement as a major force in the upcoming elections that Republicans in some districts will have to court if they want to win.