Today, Politico reports that Republican Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina are leading the latest development of the anti-tax, anti-Obama tea party protest movement. Dubbed the “Tea Party 2.0,” the Republican Governors Association will host a telephone conference call on Thursday with thousands of right-wing activists to discuss how “our states’ rights are being trampled upon.”
Official Republican Party involvement is nothing new in the tea party movement. The tea party efforts were initially organized by corporate lobbyists and GOP consultants, and later advertised for by Fox News. But by the time of the April 15 protests, hundreds of state and federal Republican office holders headlined events across the country. Eventually, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and RNC Chairman Michael Steele all but declared ownership of the protests.
Ironically, the governors who are now using an official apparatus of the Republican Party to coordinate the tea party conference call were the same governors perpetuating the lie that the movement was entirely spontaneous, without any grass-tops involvement:
– Gov. Mark Sanford: “I was struck by the recent Tea Party rallies in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville, where thousands of South Carolinians turned out in a spontaneous display of protest against reckless government spending.” [Post-Courier, 4/27/09]
– Gov. Rick Perry: “It’s a very organic thing,” he says, “a very powerful moment, I think, in American history.” On Tax Day, he told cheering veterans: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” [Daily Press, 4/27/09]
Dropping any pretension that the tea parties are a citizens’ movement rather than a partisan ploy, an official working with the Republican governors said the effort was part of a “springboard” to raise funds for gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia.