The GOP/Tea Party Meeting
The much-hyped meeting between RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Tea Party activists ended up lasting four hours, with the activists who participated alternating between assertions of independence and gratitude for being invited.
Karin Hoffman, founder of a South Florida tea party group called DC Works For Us, organized the meeting and said afterwards that it was “a natural part of this movement that the grassroots leaders be heard as part of the political discussion and we were heard.”
“It’s the beginnings of a relationship,” Hoffman said, though she was careful to pledge that “the grassroots movement will still be the grassroots movement.”
“It is an autonomous movement, but part of that relationship is that we are able to communicate with them and they are able to communicate with us,” she said.
Ken Vogel talks to Robin Stublen and Andrew Ian Dodge, two critics (in Florida and Maine, respectively) of Tea Party leadership’s rush to the Republican banner. Both point out that Hoffman had trouble wrangling supporters to come to this meeting; Dodge argues that it was a PR stunt.
But my experience at the National Tea Party Convention suggests that the people who engage in this high-profile political meetings become, in the media’s eyes, the leaders of the movement. There’s more interest in what they’ll do in 2010 than what they stand for.