Money may not be buying Mitt Romney much Republican love, but it’s going a long way toward helping him buy the next best thing: endorsements in the GOP primaries.
Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC and its affiliates states have lavished close to $1.3 million in campaign donations to federal, state and local GOP politicians, almost all since 2010. His recipients include officials in the major upcoming primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, and in three southern Super Tuesday states where he was trounced four years ago.
In New Hampshire, a U.S. senator, a congressman, 10 state senators and three executive councilors shared $26,000 in donations from Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC in 2010 and 2011 combined. All 15 have showered Romney with endorsements leading up to Tuesday’s primary
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came out for Romney last month – a year after his Free and Strong America PACs funneled $36,000 to the Tea Party darling’s 2010 election bid. And 19 state and Washington, D.C., lawmakers in three Super Tuesday states – Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia — are backing Romney after his PAC poured a total of $125,500 into their coffers for elections held in 2009 and 2010.
“This is as old as politics itself,” Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute of Money in State Politics. “He’s just taking it to a whole new level.”
Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University political scientist, said Romney’s gambit is a smart strategy for a deep-pocketed candidate. “He’s investing wisely and trying not just to run up the numbers where he’s strong, but trying to build it up where he’s weakest,” Zelizer said.
Nowhere has Romney spent as heavily – and harvested the rewards – as in Tuesday’s must-win state of New Hampshire. Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC and its Granite State affiliate invested some $53,000 to help local officials win races, and another $13,000 for congressional and Senate candidates.
New Hampshire state Sen. Sharon Carson said in a press release that she took the time to examine the “backgrounds and qualifications of each of the candidates” running for president before she backed Romney on Dec. 27. She received $1,000 from Romney’s federal Free and Strong America PAC for her winning 2010 reelection bid.
Kelly Ayotte – a Tea Party Republican who won a U.S. Senate seat – received $5,000 from Romney’s PAC in 2010 for her winning bid and $2,500 from the PAC in 2011, according to federal records. She endorsed Romney in November.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass also endorsed Romney in November. He received $3,500 from Romney’s PAC in 2010 and and $2,000 2011 from Romney’s PAC. State Senate President Peter Bragdon endorsed Romney Dec. 1. He received $1,000 from Romney’s Free and Strong America / New Hampshire PAC on Oct. 4, 2010.
Dante Scala, a University of New Hampshire political scientist, said Romney needs 35 to 40 percent of the vote to be viewed as the winner. Romney’s strategy of snatching up local endorsements has resonated with Granite State residents, and that’s reflected in the widening gap in the polls.
“They want to suck all the oxygen out of the primary,” Scala said. “And so far they’ve succeeded.”
After his crushing 2008 campaign defeat, Romney created the Free and Strong America leadership PAC to contribute to local, state and federal officials’ campaigns.
According to the Federal Election Commission and OpenSecrets.org, the PAC donated $890,299 to some 167 congressional and Senate candidates in 2010, while distributing another $404,226 in 2010 to state and local candidates, according to state campaign finance records collected by FollowTheMoney.org.
If Romney’s been chided for being too moderate, he’s shown little moderation when it comes to the mother’s milk of politics: money.
“Clearly, the one thing Mitt Romney has to his advantage is money, and the best way to use it in the early stages is to spread it around to build up a political organization,” said Michael Dennehy an unaligned New Hampshire GOP operative. “Now, it appears he’s reaping the benefits.”
Romney is already earning dividends in states where he suffered embarrassing setbacks in 2008. In South Carolina, for example, Romney placed a distant third behind Mike Huckabee and John McCain.
Romney trumpeted the backing of Haley in December. The pair are touring South Carolina Friday and New Hampshire this weekend. His Free and Strong America PAC raised a lofty $36,000 for her in 2010.
Romney also is bolstering his support in three March 6 Super Tuesday states where his showing was dismal in 2008.
In Georgia, where Romney finished a distant third behind Huckabee and McCain, Free and Strong spent $36,000 in 2010 on 24 state candidates. So far, 11 have endorsed Romney ahead of the primary. Another nine congressmen received $25,052 in 2010 from the PAC, and four are backing Romney.
In Tennessee, another Super Tuesday state where Romney also finished third, Romney netted the backing of U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Jimmy Duncan. They were among GOP state and federal Tennessee candidates who split $17,500 from Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC in 2010.
In 2008, Romney placed fourth behind McCain, Huckabee and Ron Paul in Virginia. But this year he snagged the backing of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Rep. Barbara Comstock, who were among the recipients of some $27,500 donated by the Free and Strong America PAC.
So far, the spending has paid off not just in endorsements but in the development of a campaign infrastructure, experts said. This will help Romney against less well-funded rivals when the primaries are in several states simultaneously and particularly on Super Tuesday, when surrogates are vital in many places at once.
But there’s a risk, Zelizer warned, that over-spending could get Romney painted as an out-of-touch elitist trying to buy his delegates.
“He doesn’t want this to backfire and look like he has so much money, he’s buying an election, he’s buying a nomination,” Zelizer said.
There’s also controversy. For while the practice of contributing to campaigns in exchange for endorsements isn’t new, the New Hampshire and Alabama Democratic Parties have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission. They charge that the Free and Strong PACS coordinate with the state affiliates to circumvent federal and state campaign laws. The PACs have denied any wrongdoing.
Dennehy, the GOP operative, said that rather than complain, others should wonder why they’re not exerting their political muscle as effectively as Romney.
“He’s the only one who donated a sizable amount of money to dozens of elected officials,” Dennehy added. “Let’s face it. When no one else gives you money, you don’t think long and hard who’ll you’ll give your endorsement to.”
By: Edward Mason, Salon, January 7, 2012
The barrage of commercials tells the story: This is a presidential election without meaningful contribution limits or timely disclosure, outsourced to political action committees whose spending often dwarfs that of the candidates they support.
The PACs’ benign, intentionally uninformative names belie the brutal nature of their attack ads and the closeness of their relationships with the candidates, despite the requirement that they operate independently.
The leading example, in terms of financial firepower and ferocity of assault, is “Restore Our Future,” the Mitt Romney-supporting super PAC that has unleashed a $4 million barrage against Newt Gingrich. (It worked. Gingrich complained of being “Romney-boated,” a reference to the Swift boat attacks on John Kerry in 2004.)
The committee is run by Carl Forti, political director of Romney’s 2008 campaign. Its treasurer is Charles Spies, the Romney 2008 general counsel. Its fundraiser, Steve Roche, headed the Romney 2012 finance team until jumping to the super PAC last summer. And to underscore the flimsiness of the PAC’s supposed independence, Romney himself has spoken at “Restore Our Future” events.
Yet up-to-date information about who is bankrolling this effort will not be available until the end of January, by which point four states will have voted and Romney may have the nomination wrapped up.
The last time “Restore Our Future” disclosed its donors to the Federal Election Commission was six months ago, when it reported raising $12 million. The committee would have had to update the information by Jan. 15 but — as have several other super PACs — it managed to postpone that two more weeks by changing its filing status from quarterly to monthly.
In New Hampshire, the “Our Destiny” PAC backing Jon Huntsman, and reportedly funded by the candidate’s wealthy father, has a new ad calling on voters to “stop the chameleon.” (That would be Romney.) On the Democratic side, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, former aides to President Obama, launched “Priorities USA,” which has already aired anti-Romney ads.
The rise of these groups erodes the twin pillars of a functional campaign finance system: limits on the size of contributions and timely information about who is writing the checks.
“The establishment of the candidate-specific super PAC is a vehicle to completely destroy candidate contribution limits,” says Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign finance reform group Democracy 21, which is releasing a report on the phenomenon. “It is a vehicle that will spread to Congress and it will lead us back to a system of pure legalized bribery, because you will be back, pre-Watergate, to unlimited contributions that are going for all practical purposes directly to candidates.”
Bonus points: The super PAC funds the dirty work of attack ads while the candidate gets to remain above the fray, not required to appear on camera to say that he or she approved this message.
“I view the super PAC as the evil twin of the candidate’s campaign committee,” Federal Election Commission member Ellen Weintraub told me.
The emergence of these entities is the unanticipated but logical outgrowth of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. The uproar over the opinion involved the justices giving the all-clear to unlimited corporate independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, and this is still a potential problem.
But as a practical matter, most publicly held corporations are squeamish about being associated with such direct advocacy. Instead, the real-world impact of Citizens United, in combination with lower-court rulings, was to usher in the era of the super PAC.
“By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, dismissing the notion that such spending could be corrosive.
Did he really mean to clear the path for independent expenditure committees backing a particular candidate — and bankrolled by the candidate’s father or run by his former top aides?
“How can it possibly be true that to give more than $2,500 to a candidate is potentially corrupting but to give millions to an outside group that is acting on the candidate’s behalf is not?” Weintraub asked.
Absent legislative intervention (unlikely) or regulatory action (even less likely), the super PAC is a dangerous new force in American politics. What happened in Iowa won’t stay in Iowa.
By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 3, 2012
As the noted philosopher and rock ‘n’ roll irritant David Lee Roth once said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”
I often think of his sage words as I watch the early days of the 2012 political campaigns. For the phrase “buy you a yacht,” simply substitute “buy you an election.” Then behold the havoc wrought by Citizens United and other court decisions that have unleashed a mudslide of corporate cash into our electoral system, much of it anonymous, hurling the average citizen out of the democratic equation.
An estimated $40 million will be spent in those nine Wisconsin state Senate recall elections — most of it from outside, third-party interest groups and twice what was spent last year on all 116 of the state’s legislative races. Most believe President Obama will raise a billion dollars or even more for his reelection bid; enough, as NPR’s Peter Overby observed, to buy up all the TV ads on the Super Bowl — four times.
The Republican nominee may also raise and spend a billion. If it turns out to be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, buying that electoral yacht will be a tad easier than for others. Back in 2007, the New York Times estimated his worth at nearly $350 million, and he plowed a reported $44.5 million of his own money into his 2008 presidential campaign.
Certainly, there has been a deep strain of noblesse oblige throughout the history of American governance, the wealthy feeling the urge (and having the disposable income and free time) to come to the aid of their country, both for good and ill. But with Romney, so much a complaisant creature of the corporate culture that dropped us into our current mess without a parachute, we have a tsunami-in-waiting.
As he scurries to the right, running away from his moderate record as Massachusetts governor (although there’s no escaping the irony of this week’s reports that the state’s upgrade to an AA rating from Standard & Poor’s during his tenure was achieved, in part, through tax hikes), it’s illuminating to remember not only how Romney amassed his personal fortune but also how the fundraising apparatus surrounding him probes for yet more ways to scam the system. Not content with the freewheeling liberties already granted by the courts, his money machine relentlessly pursues ever more insidious routes to the fattest wallets and checkbooks.
The opening chapters may be familiar to you. As a June 2007 article in the Times reported, Romney’s personal fortune was amassed from his leadership at the private equity firm Bain Capital. “Mr. Romney’s Bain career — a source of money and contacts that he has used to finance his Massachusetts campaigns and to leap ahead of his presidential rivals in early fund-raising … exposes him to criticism that he enriched himself excessively, sometimes by cutting jobs to increase profits.” The newspaper quoted Boston University business professor James E. Post: “Increasingly, this world of private equity looks like a world of robber barons, and Romney comes out of that world.”
A similar article that same month and year in the Boston Globe noted that Bain Capital specialized in leveraged buyouts and cited MIT Sloan School of Management professor Howard Anderson. Bain, he said, would do “everything they can” to increase the value of the companies it bought. “The promise [to investors] is to make as much money as possible. You don’t say we’re going to make as much money as possible without going offshore and laying off people.”
Stephen Colbert may have summed it up best:
“Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.”
Another of the companies sucked into Bain’s gravitational pull was the medical testing firm Damon Corp. that, according to the Globe,
“later pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of $25 million and paid a record $119 million fine.
“Romney sat on Damon’s board. During Romney’s tenure, Damon executives submitted bills to the government for millions of unnecessary blood tests. Romney and other board members were never implicated… But court records suggest that the Damon executives’ scheme continued throughout Bain’s ownership… Bain, meanwhile, tripled its investment. Romney personally reaped $473,000.”
But unlike the companies it bought, at Bain itself, even failure could be rewarded — even if your name was Mitt. Take a look at the sweetheart deal Romney got when he took over Bain Capital, a spinoff of consulting firm Bain & Company where he had been an executive. In an arrangement any start-up enterpriser would kill for, as per the Globe, founder Bill Bain guaranteed that if the Bain Capital experiment tanked, “Romney would get his old job and salary back, plus any raises handed out during his absence.” What’s more, if he proved unfit for the task, “Bain agreed to craft a cover story if necessary, promising to bring Romney back to the consulting firm and explain Romney’s return as a matter of his being more valuable to Bain as a consultant.”
Nice. No wonder Romney told an Iowa crowd this week that, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Like Garrett Morris’ Chico Escuela in the early days of “Saturday Night Live,” big business been berry berry good to him. Would that it had been berry berry good to the hundreds fired at companies taken over by Bain Capital.
Yes, corporate people power has served Romney well, especially when it comes to political fundraising. As Huffington Post reported this week, “According to disclosure reports filed at the end of July, 61 registered lobbyists and five lobbyist-linked political action committees contributed $137,650 to Romney’s campaign between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011. The former Massachusetts governor raised more money from lobbyists during this period than all of his competitors combined … Craig Holman, legislative representative for the watchdog group Public Citizen, told HuffPost that Romney’s lead in lobbyist cash ‘strongly suggests that Romney is the favored candidate for wealthy special interest groups, especially K Street. They clearly think that they can get their foot in the door with Mitt Romney.’”
Then there’s this in the July 20 Washington Post:
“The largest corporate sources of money for Romney are mostly finance industry leaders, including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Goldman Sachs employees have given nearly a quarter of a million dollars in contributions… The keys to his success appear to be large donors and contributors from the New York area. Nearly three-quarters of Romney’s money came from donors giving the maximum $2,500 contribution, and one in eight of Romney’s donors live in New York City and its suburbs.”
Of the $18 million raised by his campaign in the second quarter this year, one million came from a single trip to New York in May, including a University Club event crammed to its poshly appointed walls with banking executives.
So it’s not surprising that in the Romney camp, the creative accounting techniques perfected by Wall Street are a specialty. It was again The Boston Globe — which seems to have covered Romney’s political ambitions since they first danced in his head — that wrote back on April 15, “The former Massachusetts governor has become a master of a controversial but legal fund-raising technique that relies on a network of loosely regulated state political action committees to collect those funds.”
Example: Four members of the Marriott hotel family, close friends with the Romneys and fellow Mormons, wrote checks totaling $215,000 to Romney’s campaign, far more than an individual is allowed to give to federal political committees. According to the Globe:
“Romney, more fully exploiting the system he employed in the 2008 election cycle, got around those restrictions by taking in contributions through political committees set up under the rules of individual states. Most of the money was then transferred to Romney’s federal political action committee, Free and Strong America, and used to pay the salaries of top aides, political consultants, and traveling expenses.”
Consider, too, the super PAC Restore Our Future, supposedly independent, but run by former Romney political aides in support of their man’s candidacy. Restore Our Future raised $12.2 million in the first half of 2012. Under the new, relaxed rules it can raise unlimited funds but must disclose who contributes and cannot legally coordinate with the candidates themselves or the candidates’ official campaign committees. Of Restore Our Future’s 90 wealthy donors so far, the ubiquitous Marriotts among them, four gave a million dollars apiece. One was John Paulson, described by the website Politico as “a New York hedge fund billionaire who became famous for enriching himself by betting on the collapse of the housing industry.”
The other three allegedly are corporations but none of them conduct any real business. Two, Eli Publishing and something called F8 LLC, each list the same Provo, Utah, address as trusts set up by the families of two executives at the anti-aging product company Nu Skin Enterprises. Nu Skin founders and fellow Mormons Stephen Lund and Blake Roney were big contributors to Romney’s first White House campaign in 2008. (For what it’s worth, twice in the ’90s, Nu Skin was hauled before the Federal Trade Commission and paid a total of $2.5 million to settle allegations of unsubstantiated product claims.)
The other shell company, W Spann LLC, was even more mysterious. As first reported by Michael Isikoff of NBC News, it was dissolved only months after it was created, and just two weeks before Restore Our Future reported the company’s donation. As Isikoff wrote, “Campaign finance experts say the use of an opaque company like W Spann to donate large sums of money into a political campaign shows how post-Watergate disclosure laws are now being increasingly circumvented.”
After days of media demands and questions, the man behind W Spann finally came forward: Edward Conard, a retired managing director of — surprise — Bain Capital. But he only stepped up after the groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center requested investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Elections Commission. He made his donation “after consulting prominent legal counsel regarding the transaction,” Conard said, “and based on my understanding that the contribution would comply with applicable laws.”
Phony businesses set up for the sole purpose of laundering campaign money and shielding who’s really behind massive contributions? The donors responsible for the dummy corporations all say they have nothing to hide. So why hide it? Maybe to keep their distance, because Restore Our Future could be planning attack ads on Republican rivals and President Obama that will be harsher and more truth bending than anything Romney and his nearest and dearest can officially support.
We need to discover this and other answers before the money machine completely supplants the voting machine, and any last chance to have our voices heard is permanently stilled by cold hard cash.
By: Michael Winship, Senior Writing Fellow, Demos, published in Salon, August 12, 2011
During the 2010 election season, we heard Republican candidates from coast to coast run on creating jobs. In the 2011 Tennessee legislative session, the Republican majority forgot that message and went after teachers and teacher unions. Any other year this would have been enough to make the staunchest conservative proud, but in a session where Republican legislators presented bills by non-citizens with corporate interests, according to the Tennessean, the measure of success was also to include rewriting existing campaign laws to lift the ban on corporate donations. The ban was lifted late Wednesday when Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law SB 1915, which allows direct corporate donations to candidates.
SB 1915 changes existing law T.C.A. § 2-10-131 which did read: “No corporation may use any funds, moneys or credits of the corporation to make contributions to candidates. This means corporations are prohibited from making contributions to any PAC that supports the election or defeat of any candidate.” This has been nullified and allows for direct contributions without penalty.
For the first time in Tennessee history, direct corporate contributions to candidates and political parties will be allowed.
“This basically would just level the playing field, because unions are allowed to do this by statute now,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, according to the Nashville City Paper. Ketron was in the spotlight earlier this year, along with House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, for introducing and sponsoring legislation they introduced without reading.
The argument for passing such legislation to allow the influx of corporate money into Tennessee politics was based on fairness. Republicans were quick to point to unions and their political action committees as justification of needing this change, implying that P.A.C. money was unfairly going to the Democrats. This was not the case.
When we examine the numbers, we find that it is the Republicans who are benefiting from PAC money by a margin of $3-$1, reports Knox News. SB 1915 was written to become law as soon as the governor affixed his signature to the bill. So corporate America, Tennessee is now open for business: You are free to directly contribute to any candidate you wish.
The 107th Tennessee General Assembly’s 2011 session was one filled with controversy and fundamental changes to our state’s political structure. While the majority worked to silence one voice in government, they simultaneously opened the door to another. Republican supporters of SB1915 contend that they are complying with the Citizens United ruling that extends First Amendment rights to corporations and lifts prior bans on corporate independent expenditures. Critics of the bill contend that it will lead to a decline in good government and pit legislators against each other for corporate donations.
In a time when citizens are getting more impatient with their representatives, how does allowing corporate influence increase accountability? The financial summary of SB1915 shows that it will actually cost taxpayers money to implement. Not only do the taxpayers get silenced by corporate interests, they get to pick up the tab of implementing the changes. Gov. Haslam has signed the bill and it is now law in Tennessee. Let the era of rental legislators begin. May the highest bidder win.
By: Chris Robison, Associated Content, June 2, 2011
Tea party activists have taken some lumps lately, but they’re not going down without a fight.
With TV ads, petitions and grassroots lobbying, tea party organizers are gearing up to send an absolutist message to Capitol Hill: Don’t raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances. Tea party activists have already clashed publicly with some of the 87 GOP freshmen they helped elect last year, and they’re warning that Republicans who don’t keep their fiscal promises will pay a political price.
“We will remove as many incumbents as we can that do not do the job they were hired to do,” Darla Dawald, national director of the tea party group Patriot Action Network, said in an e-mail. “We are watching every member of Congress, their votes, position and language.”
A newly formed conservative political action committee has released an ad opposing a debt ceiling increase and disputing the $100 billion in cuts that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, touted in the recent budget agreement. The ad cites the Congressional Budget Office finding that cuts totaled less than $400 million. But its real target is President Obama and his “massive deficit spending.”
The ad was released by the new Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama PAC, a spinoff of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, the party of the Tea party Express. The latter is about to launch its own national TV ad campaign opposing a debt ceiling increase, said Amy Kremer, who chairs Tea party Express. The PAC raised and spent $7.7 million in the 2010 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Another conservative activist group, Grassfire Nation, is gathering signatures from its 1.8 million members on a petition opposing “any increase in the legal federal debt limit,” to be delivered by hand in the coming weeks to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A Grassfire Nation poll found that close to 80 percent of its members opposed raising the debt ceiling, even if conditions such as spending cuts or caps were attached.
“It’s no secret that the tea party movement’s unhappy,” said Kremer. “You’re seeing people on a local level really upset with their congressmen and women.” Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., Tom Price, R-Ga., and David Schweikert, R-Ariz., are among the House Republicans who have fielded flak from conservative bloggers, demonstrators, or town hall hecklers upset that Congress isn’t acting faster to bring down the deficit.
“There’s a frustration that we can’t move faster,” said Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, referring to the tea party movement. “But also an understanding that their job is to say: Let’s do more, let’s do more, let’s do more.”
The debt ceiling vote will be a key test of both the tea party and of the GOP on the threshold of the 2012 election. Technically, the federal government will run out of money in mid-May, but Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has signaled that accounting adjustments may give Congress until early August to actually vote.
It’s an open question how successful the tea party will be, both in the debt ceiling fight and on the campaign trail next year. Of the GOP freshmen, who’ve played a pivotal role in the unfolding budget drama, one bloc would raise the debt ceiling on the condition of substantive budget reforms or spending cuts, sources say. Another bloc opposes a debt ceiling increase flat out. And about a third are undecided.
Tea party activists are up against expert and administration warnings that failing to raise the debt limit could send the economy and the stock market into a tailspin. The tea party’s star, moreover, may be fading.
A Capitol Hill protest in March to demand more budget cuts proved underwhelming. The movement’s national leaders, most notably former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., have drifted to the fringes of the GOP White House nominating contest. A couple of tea party PACs unveiled to much fanfare last year–Ensuring Liberty and Liberty First–have fizzled. And GOP leaders have signaled that certain tea party goals–repealing the health care law, partially privatizing Medicare–may or may not be on the table in ongoing debt limit negotiations.
It “absolutely is not true” that the movement is losing steam, countered Kremer. “You’re not seeing the great big rallies that you did before, because people are engaged on a local level doing things.”
Virginia tea party activist Jamie Radtke, who’s launched a Senate campaign for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, concurred that the movement is shifting from a national to a local focus: “There is a strong desire in the tea party movement to keep the tea party local.”
Radtke predicted that activists will take the fight over the debt limit to the mat. “The GOP is on probation, because under President Bush they spent a lot of money, and added $3 trillion to the national debt,” she said, adding: “You will see that the tea party will have no problem whatsoever challenging the very freshmen they put in.”
Such warnings still make some on Capitol Hill very nervous. But as Republicans struggle between idealism and pragmatism, the GOP–and the tea party–might soon face a moment of truth.
By: Elizabeth Newlin Carney, Contributing Editor, National Journal Daily, May 9, 2011