‘Tea Party’ Republicans Rebel Against National GOP

By
Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) and Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (usembassy.gov, myfloridahouse.gov)

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) and Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (usembassy.gov, myfloridahouse.gov)

On March 11, when Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) entered the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Marco Rubio was in Washington. The former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives was ready for this moment, rumored for weeks, the entry of a Republican party dream candidate who threatened to push him out of the race. When Crist put out a press release announcing the run, Rubio’s campaign pushed out a Web ad that showed Crist gazing into President Barack Obama’s eyes at a rally for the economic stimulus package. As Crist went about his work for the day, Rubio met with possible campaign allies and conservative media.

In the office of the David All Group, a new media firm that’s putting together much of Rubio’s web campaign, David All clicked through the windows on his MacBook Pro and watched the social networks churn. Traffic at Rubio’s web site was surging upward. Conservatives were retweeting Rubio’s punchy messages, such as “Elections are best when they are about clear choices. Let the debate begin.”

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

“This is Barack versus Hillary,” said All. “This is going to be a battle about what the Republican Party stands for. We have to make a decision: Are we going to get behind candidates who are real reformers who can help the Republicans recover its brand?”

Florida’s Republican Senate primary has quickly become a contest between the party’s base and its national leadership. Since the start of the Obama administration, the national party has attempted to capture the energy of the base by endorsing anti-spending Tea Parties, opposing the Democratic agenda, and blaming the losses of 2006 and 2008 on a move away from fiscal conservatism. At the same time, it has courted more moderate candidates like Florida’s Crist, California’s former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-Pa.). Until he became a Democrat this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee had supported Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) over conservative foot soldier Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s Senate race. This disconnect between message and recruitment is starting to irk conservative activities and setting up heated primaries that the party would have preferred to avoid.

The coming Florida primary is shaping up to be the most brutal of the ideological primaries. Rubio, a 39-year-old Cuban-American who served for eight years in the Florida House — the last two years as speaker — entered the Senate race on May 5. Early on, he said that anyone who voted with the Senate Republican moderates “might as well be a Democrat.” In March, Rubio quietly signed up Ann Herberger, a prolific fundraiser for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, to stockpile cash for a campaign. In April, he came to Washington to talk with the Club for Growth, the fiscal conservative PAC that until April was led by Pat Toomey, and one that welcomed Crist into the race with pointed criticism. This, and an aggressive media strategy that has resulted in warm interviews with Fox News and National Review, has allowed Rubio to build buzz with conservative activists who fully expect Crist to lead the first rounds of polls.

“It will be closer than it looks right now,” said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida. “It’s Crist’s race to lose but there is a pent-up animus against him from mainstream Republican voters who don’t like the fact that he’s cozied up to President Obama.”

Rubio is laying the groundwork for that by patiently laying out a litany of conservative complaints against Crist — his environmentalism, his appointment of a pro-choice judge, and above all his support for the economic stimulus package. “Charlie Crist has proven to have more confidence in the ability of government to grow the economy than I have and than Republicans should have,” Rubio told National Review. While Crist supported the president, Rubio attended an anti-spending Tea Party and has produced a video that mashes up his speech from the event with interviews he conducted with other protesters — a video that has been played for attendees of Grover Norquist’s Wednesday meetings of Washington conservatives.

“Rubio went to a Tea Party,” said Javier Manjarres, chairman of the south Florida-based Conservative Republican Alliance. “Where was Crist? He didn’t go to any Tea Parties. To stand with Obama like he did was a slap in the face of Republicans.”

In some quarters of Florida’s Republican base, there is lingering bitterness over Crist’s olive branches to Democrats — he once said he was “open” to reparations for slavery — and the state GOP’s decisions during the 2008 election. While Obama carried Florida, the party lost the House seats of scandalized Republican incumbents Rep. Tom Feeney and Rep. Ric Keller while winning the seat of disgraced Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney. Republicans who worked on other races, without much party support, aren’t won over by Crist or his endorsement from state party chairman Jim Greer.

“He too could very well next be the Arlen Specter and they’re racing to him,” said Vince Mariano, an aide to Ed Lynch, a Republican who ran against Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and is running again in 2010. “This is yet another outrageous power play by the establishment to force a candidate on Floridians that, at best, they’ll half-heartedly support. Democrats can look at it with glee, but there are serious principles at play. That’s rarely the case on their side.”

What irks conservatives who are being told to get behind moderate candidates is that the Republican Party has spent much of this year courting their support — pandering to them, as some activists suggested. After the April 15 Tea Parties, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) talked about “embracing” the activists who’ve argued that the GOP lost its way with the big spending of the Bush years. Convincing them to buckle and support candidates like Crist, or to support a challenger to Pennsylvania’s Toomey, cuts against their arguments.

“The Tea Party movement is non-partisan,” said Tea Party and Top Conservatives on Twitter activist Michael Patrick Leahy, “but if the GOP is going to nominate candidates who do not promote and support fiscal responsibility, than the GOP is going to lose support from us.”

Leahy criticized Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) for their plan to host a “Tea Party 2.0″ conference call Thursday, May 14, borrowing the message of the rallies to get support for gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. “This movement is about the mainstream class against the political class,” said Leahy. “I personally think Sanford is a good governor, but it’s a mistake for Sanford to co-opt the Tea Party Movement.”

Justin Hart, another Tea Party organizer, is running new media projects for Chuck DeVore, a Republican assemblyman from California who is, at the moment, the only candidate running against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The DeVore campaign closely watched the NRSC’s decision on Crist, because the national committee has talked to former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina about entering the race and elbowing DeVore — considered too conservative to win a statewide election — out of the race. “Our main concern is that the NRSC is picking winners and losers,” said Hart. “That mirrors what the Obama administration is doing with the economy, and the NRSC’s record is one of complete failure over the last few years. Carly’s new to politics and has decent name recognition? We’ve been down that road before in California. His name was ‘Arnold.’”

DeVore, who attended a Tea Party in Modesto, contrasted his record with Fiorina’s tacit support of the economic stimulus and the national party’s belief that self-funding, “inexperienced, dilletente politican wannabees” could save the party in California. “That’s the path of least resistance and it leads to defeat,” said DeVore. “Even if they win some seats, they will wind wind up with principle-less individuals who perpetuate themselves in power. We saw what happened with that in 2006 and 2008. If we want the GOP to succeed in the future we need to get back to what makes us different than the Democrats.”

As the NRSC continues to push for more moderate candidates, conservatives like Rubio, Toomey and DeVore have allies in high places. “It is always a problem when Republicans are not faithful to conservative views,” said James Bopp, Jr., the Indiana RNC committeeman who is pushing for the party to pass a resolution asking the Democrats to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party. “When that happens, people become confused about the differences between Republicans and Democrats, and that is a prescription for Dem success.”

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Comments

25 Comments

Sam
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 11:53 am

I've been a Republican all of my 58 years; I have had it with this Rep/Dem socialist. I am going to work and vote for the candidate that supports our constitution, our liberties, balanced budgets, fair taxes and Drill here Drill now! We might want to revive the Federalist Party!


FairMark
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 11:55 am

HR 25, the FairTax bill, wasn't mentioned once. This is the cornerstone of the majority of tea party movements. “Don't tax us” won't get it anymore. HR 25 is the ONLY solution. This should specifically be in every “tea party” discussion.


Good4theGoose
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

I agree Sam. I personally have joined the Constitution party. http://www.constitutionparty.com/


america
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

I am with you guys.I have been banned from the huffington post from spreading the truth about the STATIST.This is actually scary(the left wish death on Limbaugh,call repubs nazis,and bash God),and i cant use my FREEDOM OF SPEECH.


tuefel
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

Crist vs Rubio, I'm looking for a third choice.


Frank
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

I am supporting DeVore and no other candidate. Period.


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Pingback posted May 15, 2009 @ 9:06 am

[...] [...]


Karen
Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

Crist gave the right to vote to felons. Get him out of there. I'll send donations to Rubio.


LarryMiller
Comment posted May 15, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

If the Republican Party is to, once again, become and effective force, it will have to listen to the people, not direct them in paths that are compatible with the good ole boys who have acquired leadership positions. If they choose candidates that over the wishes of the base, they have no call on the base for support in the name of meaningless victories.


Anonymous
Pingback posted May 15, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

[...] Party


Anthony Kueber
Comment posted May 16, 2009 @ 9:02 am

The Federalist Party? The Constitution Party? You've got to be joking! If you're a fiscal conservative, fed-up by the borrow and spend statist Republicans, you have no other realistic choice but to go here: http://www.lp.org


‘Tea Party’ Republicans Rebel Against National GOP < It’s all about the trends
Pingback posted May 17, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

[...] to push him out of the race. When Crist put out a press release announcing the run, Rubio’s camp click for more var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : [...]


William
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 9:55 am

Quote from article: “This is Barack versus Hillary,” said All. “This is going to be a battle about what the Republican Party stands for.

No, not really (at least not the first part of quote). Barack and Hillary were pretty much on the same page about most things. It was a simple contest of personalities. The Crist/Rubio fight is something more than just personalities, and thus may indeed be about what the Republican Party stands for.


Sharon Taylor
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

I like this as I heard Rubio speak in Broward county, Florida and I liked most of what he said. He certainly leaned towards constitutional beliefs. I feel I need more info and I must research his record in the State legislature.
Sharon aka BIGMOUTHMOM


BIGMOUTHMOM
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

Is Rubio supporting Allen West?? He should.


dbart727
Comment posted May 25, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

Ive voted republican for the past 4 elections and I feel betrayed. Bush was the final straw…talk about a sell out! He promised one thing and then changed after he won the election….his second term was a total bait and switch on the voters who put him there.

If the republican party is to have a snowballs chance, they have to return to fiscal responsibility!…and to the rights of the individual…

I'm leaning toward the Independent party for the next election unless i see some sanity in the republican party which has lost its conservative identity.


dbart727
Comment posted May 25, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

Ive voted republican for the past 4 elections and I feel betrayed. Bush was the final straw…talk about a sell out! He promised one thing and then changed after he won the election….his second term was a total bait and switch on the voters who put him there.

If the republican party is to have a snowballs chance, they have to return to fiscal responsibility!…and to the rights of the individual…

I'm leaning toward the Independent party for the next election unless i see some sanity in the republican party which has lost its conservative identity.


Anonymous
Pingback posted June 13, 2009 @ 8:01 am

[...] [...]


cdmcclure
Comment posted July 3, 2009 @ 1:55 am

I would like to know whether there is to be a “Tea Party Protest and/or Meeting” in Baton Rouge, LA. If so, when?


OrlandoTeaParty
Comment posted July 26, 2009 @ 12:26 am

They are NOT Tea Party Republicans! They are Republicans.


OrlandoTeaParty
Comment posted July 26, 2009 @ 12:34 am

The people; the Republicans you are referring to are supporters of the constitution who supported RON PAUL.

This is a horrible misprint.

A POLITICIAN happened to proclaim to be a Tea Party organizer; when the reality of the situation is that he USED the momentum of the Tea Party movement to attempt to further his own political campaign and USED Marco Rubio and Marco Rubio accepted his invitation to speak at “his” “Tea Party”.

July 4th was a case where a politiician infiltrated the Tea Party Movement, deceived Marco Rubio and the “attendees” some of whom were in coersion with this particular politician, into believing that everyone in Orlando would be there to hear him speak, when the reality was NO POLITICIAN was welcome to speak.

As a result of this presumptuousness of this ONE politician, the Tea Party Movement is not only watered down, now it has, because of the Marco Rubio name, reach the NATIONAL NEWS which is exactly what this particular politician wanted.

Unfortunately for Marco Rubio, this could very well be the underlying reason he will loose in the end because of this one individual who used dirty underhanded filthy crudeness to horn in and show his ignorance to the whole world about the fact that he is no different than any other politician out there.


Anonymous
Pingback posted September 9, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

[...] [...]


jackclifford
Comment posted January 5, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

how can I get involved in being a Tea Party Republican?
I would be glad to lend a hand
Jack Clifford
Orlando


jackclifford
Comment posted January 5, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

how can I get involved in being a Tea Party Republican?
I would be glad to lend a hand
Jack Clifford
Orlando


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Comment posted August 6, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

Unfortunately for Marco Rubio, this could very well be the underlying reason he will loose in the end because of this one individual who used dirty underhanded filthy crudeness to horn in and show his ignorance to the whole world about the fact that he is no different than any other politician out there.


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