As the tea party movement got off the ground, organizers put considerable effort into arguing that “the movement is not tied to the Republican Party.” Even Republican members of Congress who embraced the movement early on, like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), insisted that “it’s not about Republican or Democrat.” But the rhetorical firewall between the activists and the establishment is breaking down. In an interview with National Review today, DeMint said that the tea parties should no longer be thought of as “separate” from the Republican Party:
“The GOP leadership needs to stand up for mainstream American principles,” says DeMint. The best way to do that, he says, is to “look to the great candidates we can support like Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Chuck DeVore, and now Michael Williams. They’re exciting, principled candidates who have all stood up to the Republican party.”
“We need to stop looking at the tea parties as separate from the Republican party,” adds DeMint. “If we do that, we can stand up and create the biggest tent of all.”
It’s not surprising that DeMint is trying to formally weld the tea parties with the GOP. A Rasmussen poll released Monday found that on a three-way generic ballot, a tea party candidate would attract more votes than a Republican.