WASHINGTON — Democrats have tipped their hand on a national strategy for the fall elections: Run against the Tea Party by linking Republicans everywhere to leaders in that movement like House Tea Party Caucus chair Michele Bachmann.
Indeed, the fact that four Republicans in the leadership joined Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus forms the basis of the claim that the Tea Party nationally is an institutionalized movement inside the Republican Party.
The Democratic National Committee previewed the campaign to several Washington insider news outlets, including Talking Points Memo:
The Democratic official insisted it’s “not a gimmick or just a creative way to mock Republican ideas.” The official said the point is to teach voters “what Republicans really believe and what their blueprint for governing is.”
Given the new Tea Party Caucus — and with House leaders Rep. Pete Sessions and Rep. Mike Pence on the membership roster — the Democrats will claim that “the Tea Party is now an institutionalized part of the Republican party. They are one and the same.”
Dems aim to highlight ten policy proposals they say are Republican Tea Party goals, from the more obvious like repealing the health care and Wall Street reform laws to the more obscure, like abolishing the direct election of senators (though frankly, if the latter is something most Republicans or Tea Party members support then that’s news to us all).
Strictly speaking, the Tea Party Caucus as a House member organization is open to Republicans and Democrats alike (though so far only Republicans have joined). The most conservative Democrat in Congress, Idaho’s Walt Minnick, is Tea Party endorsed but so far has declined to join the caucus.
Tea Party leaders and activists present at last week’s caucus launch, like Denise Hollars, countered the Dems’ premise by saying the Tea Party was wholly seperate from the GOP — adding pointedly that they’d work to oust Republicans they don’t like.
“I don’t think [the Tea Party] will become another part of the Republican Party. I think it will be a reminder to Republicans of how they should govern,” Hollars said then. “And if they don’t listen to the people, they’ll have to find another job.”