Tea Party Dispute Erupts Over Romney Appearance
The decision by a New Hampshire Tea Party group to invite Mitt Romney to give a speech on Labor Day has created a split in among Tea Party supporters:
A top tea party organizing group, FreedomWorks, is planning to protest Mitt Romney’s appearance this weekend at a New Hampshire stop of a bus tour intended to encourage tea party sympathizers to participate in the Republican presidential nominating process.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is among the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination but is viewed warily by tea party activists, who believe him to be insufficiently conservative and particularly blame him for the Massachusetts state health care overhaul he signed into law.
And Romney, for his part, hasn’t focused much energy on appealing to the movement. So it attracted considerable attention — both within the tea party and among the GOP operative class — when it was announced Tuesday that he intended to speak at a Sunday evening rally being staged by the Tea Party Express in Concord, N.H., as part of a cross country bus tour set to culminate in Tampa, Fla., ahead of a Sept. 12 GOP presidential debate co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express and CNN.
FreedomWorks, which had been participating in the Tea Party Express’s tour and had helped turn out activists at rallies during prior stops, decided it could no longer be affiliated with the tour, said Brendan Steinhauser, a lead organizer for FreedomWorks.
Instead, it began working with local New Hampshire tea party groups to organize a counter rally set for about the same time in the same park in Concord as Romney’s speech.
“We have to defend our brand against poseurs,” Steinhauser said.
On some level this reaction makes no sense to me. Romney is a top tier candidate for the Republican nomination for President, and he may well end up being the nominee at the end of all this. Tea Party Nation is a major national Tea Party group, as is FreedomWorks. Why wouldn’t it be a good thing for Romney to speak to the group? On some level, this doesn’t really bode well for a rapprochement between mainline Republicans and the Tea party if Romney is the nominee, or if he isn’t. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to hear Romney out ? It doesn’t mean you’re going to support him, just that you’re going to listen.
Yea, I know, I’m being naive.