Tea Party Leaders Discuss Iowa and GOP 2012
Two national leaders of the tea party movement discussed the role of the movement following the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in a wide-ranging interview on Fox News Channel’s “Happening Now.”
“I think the role of the tea party needs to remain what it is . . . one a watchdog; two, focuses on the condition of limited, effective, and constitutional government,” said Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks. “What I don’t want to do . . . is see the tea party get in the business of picking horses. We are supposed to be focused on the fiscal issues, the constitutionality of government, the unconstitutionality of ObamaCare being one of the key points.”
Based on the results in the Hawkeye State, the movement has yet to pick a 2012 standard-bearer. According to a CBS News poll of voters entering the caucuses, 34 percent strongly supported the Tea Party movement. Rick Santorum – who secured a remarkable second place finish trailing Mitt Romney by just 8 votes – fared the best among this subset with 30 percent of the vote, while Newt Gingrich captured 17 percent followed by Ron Paul at 16 percent. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry tied for fourth place at 14 percent. Michele Bachmann – who ended her presidential bid today – captured just 9 percent.
Kibbe views the outcome in a positive light. As a result of evenly divided Tea Party support, “all of the Republican candidates – to a greater or lesser extent – are talking the talk,” said Kibbe.
As to why the Tea Party has yet to settle on one candidate, Kibbe said the movement is in transition.
“I think we’re still fighting the old Republican establishment who thinks it’s good enough to nominate people like John McCain,” said Kibbe. “That’s not good enough for Tea Partiers because we’re looking for someone who authentically defends those ideas. But this is going to be a very drawn out process. Politics is more decentralized today and the Tea Party is the best representation of that decentralization. And we’re going to have an impact all the way to the convention.”
When asked how the Tea Party plans to accomplish any tangible results given the divisions within its bloc, David Webb – host of the David Webb Show on Sirius XM Patriot and co-founder of Tea Party365 – said the movement has broadened in recent years from its singular focus on national politics.
“The politics needs to be at the local level which is something the Tea Party is also focused on – the state level and all of the other entities,” Webb said. “The Tea Party is about leadership. It’s about principals. It’s about good American free market enterprise values that have been successful in this country. It’s about stopping the growth of big government. Those are bigger than just the parties.”
Kibbe added that the Tea Party’s focus on local issues is the key to keeping the movement relevant in the 2012 election cycle.
“I think it’s all become more focused at the local level,” said Kibbe. “So we don’t do these big marches anymore. That would actually be a bad strategy given where we are today. It’s got to be at the local level.
“And by the way, I would watch the Senate,” Kibbe continued. “The Tea Party is playing in these Senate races, and they’re going to have a huge impact.”