At the inception of the tea party phenomena, organizers insisted that “the movement is not tied to the Republican Party.” But in recent weeks, the Republican Party has been going all out to bring the vocal activists into the GOP’s fold. “We need to stop looking at the tea parties as separate from the Republican party,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) told National Review last month. In a Dec. 29 interview on Fred Thompson’s radio show with guest host Jed Babbin, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said that if the GOP were “wise,” they would “allow themselves to be re-defined by the tea party movement”:
BABBIN: What should the Republican Party be doing to capture this political energy and turn it into votes next year?
BACHMANN: Well, it’s embrace the tea party movement with full arms and hold as many open forums as they possibly can to bring people in and listen to them because the leadership right now is truly coming from the tea party movement because it is disaffected Democrats, Independents, Republicans. It’s really people who love the country and who brace what ultimately has been the mission statement of the Republican Party. If you look at the two parties, Democrat and Republican, there’s no question that the heartbeat of the tea party movement would be more in line with the mission state of the Republican party certainly than that of the Democrat party. So if the Republican Party is wise, they will allow themselves to be re-defined by the tea party movement. And I hope that that will be the case.