Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus spurs big questions: Who’s in? Who’s out?

Rep. Michele Bachmann
MinnPost/Raoul Benavides
Rep. Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann, the darling of the Tea Party Right, will be unveiled Wednesday morning as the official head of the movement in Congress when she announces the founding members of the House Tea Party Caucus.

The question circling throughout the House today: Who will be standing there with her?

As of about 1 p.m. Central, 10 House Republicans had joined the caucus (plus Bachmann makes 11), Bachmann’s office confirmed. Many more have expressed their intention to join, spokesman Dave Dziok said, and are expected to join by the end of the day.

The list includes several high-ranking Republicans: Conference Chairman Mike Pence; Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member on the Select Committee on Intelligence who is running for governor of Michigan; and Pete Sessions, who as head of the NRCC is the man responsible for recruiting and aiding Republicans running for Congress.

Others on this list so far: Steve King of Iowa, Paul Broun of Georgia, Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, John Carter of Texas, Cliff Stearns of Florida, Dan Burton of Indiana and John Culberson of Texas.

So far, no Democrat has joined.

But the speculation in Washington surrounds the other Republican leaders whose names aren’t yet on that list. The difficulty, as several national outlets have noted, is that GOP leaders have been content to cheer the Tea Party from afar but have balked at doing so officially, for fear of being conjoined with some of the most extreme segments of it.

Never was that cheering more obvious than during the health care debate, when many Republicans found Tea Party protesters outside the Speaker’s Lobby balcony off the House Floor. There, they waved to the crowd, clapped, cheered, pumped their fists and led chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

Now, they’re being asked to get off the balcony and step into the crowd. And some leaders are balking at doing just that.

Minority Leader John Boehner will not join, but his office has explained to several media outlets that he doesn’t join any caucuses as a matter of practice.

Republican Whip Eric Cantor is also a no, he told Politico:

“I met with several of groups that operated under that moniker in Virginia; they’re not all uniform,” Cantor said in his third-floor Capitol office. “That’s part of the beauty of the tea party movement; it’s organic. And it’s certainly not Washington. So I think it’s better left with the people.

The full roster will be unveiled Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Central.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 07/20/2010 - 03:03 pm.

    The late comedian, Flip Wilson, used to joke: “… then there was the time when I went to Hollywood and made a movie. It was called The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I played the hump!”

    And now the most notable Republicans would not even be identified as any part of the Tea Party. The only exception is Mrs. Bachmann, the recklessly gutsy anomaly from Minnesota. You just got to love our State … we’re always in the forefront of the battle (good, bad, or pointless.)

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/20/2010 - 03:56 pm.

    Bachmann as the Tea Party leader, perfect. Just shows how anti-intellectual, anti-fact this group is. Stupid people and darn proud of it. The Republican party is playing with fire. Ten years from how being Republican will be reserved for 8th grade educated, mullet wearing, back woods trailer trash, proud to be ‘mericans and telling all the nonwhites to go back where they came from.

  3. Submitted by David Willard on 07/20/2010 - 05:52 pm.

    Post a Michele Bachmann article and watch the “open-minded” leftists sputter and spout good old hatred. Good start J.J. Great post Bill! She must be craaazy! Ha!

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/20/2010 - 06:54 pm.

    Sorry David — she may not BE crazy, but she says crazy things.

  5. Submitted by David Willard on 07/20/2010 - 08:34 pm.

    I’m sorry you are sorry Paul. I listened to the DFL candidates for Governor on MPR this morning. Crazy has a three bedroom mansion on the beach of DFL politics in Minny. Bachmann is a stone cold realist compared to most Dims.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/20/2010 - 08:53 pm.

    Regarding the Tea Party, it really depends on whether it follows the path of Ron Paul or Glenn Beck. Ron Paul is controversial and his ideas even more so, but as anyone who has read his books can attest, the man’s done his research. His policy proposals are almost all rooted in the works of academics such as Murray R. Rothbard and Ludwig Von Mises who, while equally controversial, can hardly be considered lightweights in their fields.

    Glenn Beck, on the other hand, churns out books that are nothing more than bottled up anger rooted in the political zeitgeist. I believe that Ron Paul has what he considers to be the best interests of the U.S. at heart. Glenn Beck’s looking out for his pocketbook first and foremost.

    If the Tea Party ever gets down to ideas, it’ll be the end. They’ve got to keep the anger hot and avoid discussing much of anything, lest the Partiers notice how much they disagree.

    The Tea Party is no more coherent than the New Left was.

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/20/2010 - 09:33 pm.

    I can’t speak for all other liberals, but I don’t hate Mickey Bachmann. I pity her.

    I find her combination of willful ignorance coupled with supreme self confidence, and her willingness to lie about difficult things she’s said while being taped, distasteful in it’s dishonesty, and those whose admiration for her borders on worship to be, for the most part, stubbornly ignorant and willfully moronic.

    But these statements are not the bullying tactics of a dysfunctional child or adolescent bully: do not mistake them for taunts, insults, or name calling.

    They are the carefully-studied, well-researched and factually-based conclusions of someone with many years of successful experience counseling people with varying levels of social and/or psychological dysfunction.

    If your only available response when someone, thoughtfully and without rancor, criticizes one of your heroes is “I know you are but what am I?” or it’s equivalent, then you may have a problem facing the reality that all heroes are eventually revealed to have “feet of clay.”

  8. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 07/21/2010 - 07:45 am.

    Willard, why is it that you think the “leftists” (meaning anyonne left of Pawlenty) have closed minds. Isn’t it a fact that the Klan votes Republican? Not saying she’s stupid but she’s sure not what I would consider smart. Also importantly she is irresponsible, blasting out emotionally loaded half-truths to rile up her followers and get her face on tv. I believe people like her and Palin and alll those Fox News people hate democracy, would rather see our country go under that have a peaceful democracy with a black man, Democratic, as president. You add up the off hand comments those people make about being locked and loaded and all the rest and I think you can draw that conclusion.

    What surprises me most, Willard, about your post is that someone who could spell without the aid of a spell checker would defend her since she plays to ignorance and that makes ignorant people her biggest fans. You’re right, my mind is closed on that subject, just like my mind has been closed on “chicken hawks”, if you know that term and maybe are one, ever since I came back from Viet Nam.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/21/2010 - 08:01 am.

    It’s funny, and kind of unfair, but the tea-party always seems socially conservative because of all the things critics describe them as wanting. But the result of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets should be much more turbulence in American identity, values and ethnic heritage than social conservatives would tolerate or Democrats dare to promise.

    I suppose the fair thing is to assume that the people advocating liberty know what the results will be and are comfortable with a multi-lingual, pan-ethnic and nontraditional country. In which case, I might ought to join.

  10. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/21/2010 - 10:20 am.

    “The difficulty, as several national outlets have noted, is that GOP leaders have been content to cheer the Tea Party from afar but have balked at doing so officially, for fear of being conjoined with some of the most extreme segments of it.”

    That’s it exactly. Starting a tea party caucus puts Republicans in a very tough spot. Cheering the Tea Party from afar lets them pick and choose the elements of the Tea Party they want to embrace, and lets them back off when trying to win over people for whom the Tea Party has no appeal. If you join the caucus, however, you are all in. You own the racist signs at Tea Party rallies. If you don’t join the caucus, then you have alienated a motivated group of voters and probably have earned yourself a primary challenge next time if the Tea Party lasts beyond this election cycle.

    Party leaders can’t be too happy with Bachmann. I have a feeling, though, that she isn’t too concerned about that.

Leave a Reply