Tea party having early impact

April 20, 2011


The Republican presidential race has barely begun, and the tea party’s impact is already evident.

First sign was the re-emergence of the “birther” issue, the unproven allegation that Barack Obama is an illegal president born in Kenya, not Hawaii. Polls show tea party activists are the Republicans most likely to believe that.

Then, a national poll and one in New Hampshire showed billionaire-developer-turned-television-reality-show-host Donald Trump soaring into a tie for second place after latching onto that issue. Both surveys showed him closely behind the leader, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

In addition, last month’s gathering of social conservatives in Iowa, which attracted several likely candidates, gave the best reception to the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Bachmann showed grass-roots support elsewhere and some fund-raising potential, indicating she may not only run but could become a more significant player than initially imagined.

Meanwhile, freshman House Republicans elected with tea party support were flexing their muscles in Congress, helping to force a bigger initial cut in federal spending than GOP leaders initially proposed.

They also pressured Republican leaders into refusing to support, without far bigger cuts, the pending measure raising the legal debt ceiling, despite House Speaker John Boehner’s earlier warning that failure to do so “would be a financial disaster.”

In the end, Obama’s birthplace is unlikely to be a decisive issue. The odds are against either Bachmann or Trump actually winning the nomination. But last year’s Republican primaries and this year’s initial maneuvering shows their candidacies may help conservative GOP primary and caucus voters force potential nominees to the right of independents, who decide presidential elections.

That’s very likely in Iowa, which is holding a party-sanctioned straw poll in August and where lead-off caucuses now are scheduled for February. Latest polling indicates it also could happen in more moderate New Hampshire, especially with a large field.

Trump, once considered a moderate Republican, drew 21 percent of GOP primary voters when included in a survey by a respected Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling. Similarly, a national NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed Trump tied former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for second. The polls came after Trump drew nationwide attention for questioning Obama’s place of birth.

He was candid recently in explaining his motivation when Candy Crowley asked on CNN’s State of the Union if this wasn’t “a losing issue” for him.

“Excuse me,” Trump interjected, “55 percent of the Republicans believe in this issue, and 70 percent think that there’s at least a good chance he wasn’t born in this country. ...I don’t think it’s a losing issue.”

But with Romney and other mainstream candidates keeping a lower profile, Trump’s bid for attention is just one interesting early development. Another is the rise of Bachmann, who seems to be filling the void created by Sarah Palin’s decision to pass up early GOP candidate events.

On paper, Palin would seem to be a strong candidate in Iowa, where religious conservatives make up a significant portion of the caucus attendance. But Bachmann’s fervent reaction at last month’s conservative conference, convened by Iowa Rep. Steve King, showed the Iowa native also may be a good fit for them.

Accounts said she received a far more enthusiastic response than other potential candidates, including Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and attracted more such crowds in Iowa this week.

Bachmann, who raised $2.2 million in the first quarter compared with $1.9 million by Romney, said she’ll decide by June whether to run but said the Aug. 13 straw poll “is key for us.”

Four years ago, Huckabee’s strong second-place showing to the heavily financed Romney foreshadowed his unexpected caucus victory.

Romney seems inclined to downplay Iowa in hopes of making his mark in New Hampshire. But some mainstream Republicans who see him as the GOP’s strongest candidate fear Trump’s poll showing suggests a fervent conservative rival could cripple the former Massachusetts governor in his most essential state.

Still, it’s early. History advises that presidential nominating contests often produce surprises, especially in the challenging party.

— Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. His email is carl.p.leubsdorf@gmail.com.


Liberty_One 7 years, 1 month ago

Guess I'll be voting third party, yet again. Not really surprised, though.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

And, none of us are either.

Although one of your posts suggested you don't vote at all.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

When you have a realistic choice of voting for a liar that wants to give your money to the poor and control your life or a liar that wants to give your money to banks and control your life, there isn't much worth voting for is there?

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

If you think not, that's your prerogative.

But you're giving up any ability to affect politics even in a small amount if you don't vote.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

Voting for third party candidates might seem at first glance to be an effort in futility but it does send a message to the major parties. Imagine if say 3% of the votes go to a combination of several third parties. In the next political cycle, it's 5% and 7% in the next. Eventually, the Democrats and Republicans will take note. When the numbers become big enough, the Dems. and/or Reps. will seek those votes by addressing their concerns. So if you don't like the Democratic or Republican candidate, please, vote for the third party candidate that does reflect your philosophy.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

I always vote in national elections. My post was just letting you why some people might choose to not vote. If I don't have a choice for a particular seat on a ballot, my default write in choice is "no more taxes".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

The Republican campaign will one of "outstupiding" all the other candidates.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

The question you should be asking is why would the Republicans, or any other party, engage in such a strategy? The very troubling answer is because that's where the votes are. And it might well be a winning strategy. As we've seen in the most recent local election here in Lawrence, 13% of eligible voters actually voted. The numbers for a presidential election will be much higher, though lower than what I would like to see. Who are these voters that will come out for the "big" elections but not the local ones. I'll describe them politely as casual voters. They are voters more likely to be influenced by attack ads on T.V. They are more likely to vote a straight party line. They are more likely to identify with candidates of "my" gender, "my" race, "my" religion, "my" ethnicity. They are more likely to vote for the "good looking guy" or the guy who "sounded" good during a debate. It's my opinion they are less likely to be able to explain how our government functions. They will not be able to clearly state the three branches of government nor what their roles are. They may not even be able to tell you who their congressperson is. They are voters who are less well informed. Yet it is precisely these casual voters who will vote in significantly higher numbers when the bigger elections come around. Both major political parties will be vying for their votes. If in fact the Republican Party's strategy is to "outstupid" the Democrats, as Bozo is suggesting, perhaps that is because they believe that's where the votes are. It may be impolite to call those casual voters stupid, but if the shoe fits.

Betty Bartholomew 7 years, 1 month ago

Then there are those of us who are so fed up with politics we can only stomach voting once every four years.

And those of us who can't manage to remember when other elections even are, which is why I missed voting for governor last year. I think I remembered about the time I went to bed.

And then there's the issue of not voting until we're affected by it - such as school board. I won't vote on that one until closer to the time my child is school age.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

A few years after they succeed in electing more idiotic candidates, and realize that the race to the bottom these officials bring on includes tea partiers, too.

remember_username 7 years, 1 month ago

I bet they'd be funnier if they didn't vote.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

"My G-ma and G-pa are Tea baggers."

You'd think people would get that out of their systems while they are young and more experimental. Do they go to a lot of rallies?

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Bet they love them some Medicare Gummint run health care

Gene Wallace 7 years, 1 month ago

Deacon - Look up "teabagger" at Wiki to see what you just called your Grandparents. Here it is for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_bag_%28sexual_act%29

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

Palin/Beck in 2012. It's a no-brainer. Since Beck is losing his TV show, he'll have lots of time to give speeches on the campaign trail about the Jewish conspiracy.

imastinker 7 years, 1 month ago

I hate that the tea party is being associated with those idiots in Washington. Republicans can't even pass a budget bill that cuts spending from last year's levels. What a joke!

I want nothing to do with the republicans any more. They're pandering to the social conservatives and can't manage to do a thing about the budget. The reason is that they benefit from the status quo in Washington as much as the Democrats. They are half the reason we are in debt so far. I'm certainly not voting democrat. They're just pandering to the leeches of society. They used to be for worker's rights and fiscal conservatives. What happened?

Oh how I wish for a real candidate who wants nothing more than a balanced budget.

imastinker 7 years, 1 month ago

Let's talk about these govt. services that I don't want to pay my fair share of. None of us are paying our fair share of them.

Who should do it? Obama thinks we should raise taxes on the rich. The rich (250k and over) could pay 100% of their income to the government and we would still have a deficit. Last I saw, total incomes in the US were about 8 trillion dollars. You would have to raise taxes across all classes 20% to accomplish this.

How can we do that? There is no way to tax ourselves out of this problem. It has to be in cuts to services.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

A combination of increasing revenue and decreasing spending is the only way out of the problem.

imastinker 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree - but why is it that democrats can't cut anything at all and aren't even trying? Even a 10% tax increase on everyone would require cutting total govt. spending 25% or more.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Neither side does anything remotely reasonable or successful.

Look at the last fight about cuts - it turns out that they're almost entirely due to bizarre government accounting, and almost nothing will actually be cut at all.

Meanwhile, they threatened to shut down the government over this nonsense.

I think the problem is that there's always somebody who doesn't want their pet thing cut at all.

imastinker 7 years, 1 month ago

Did you read it? He's going to lower the ability of folks to itemize (raising taxes on higher incomes) and make 400 billion of cuts to our deficit over the next ten years.

So, we are raising taxes on only a few people and will still have a deficit of over a trillion a year? That's not a solution. I itemize and could even be ok with the higher taxes if it were part of a real solution.

He said it himself - 2/3 of spending was entitlements and SSI and defense. It's the easiest spot to start cutting. He won't do it because he needs them for reelection. It's the same reason the republicans won't do it.

We need a real candidate.

meggers 7 years, 1 month ago

I did read it. Your statement about democrats not even trying to cut anything at all is patently false, as is this statement:

"He said it himself - 2/3 of spending was entitlements and SSI and defense. It's the easiest spot to start cutting. He won't do it because he needs them for reelection."

You will note that he specifically mentioned cuts to defense, and cost-saving reforms to Social Security and Medicare. What he is NOT proposing is draconian cuts that will leave the most vulnerable in our society even more screwed than they are now.

Eliminating the tax cuts for the wealthy, while closing tax loopholes (and no, that does not mean that no one will be able to itemize) strikes me as a sound approach, especially given the growing wealth disparity we've seen over the past few decades.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 1 month ago

If the Baggers are wasting time, they will get my straight party vote. Goooood Lord, it's high time we shut Washington down for a while.

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

but the t-bags have their own flag now. Gov. Brewer Signs Law Giving Tea Party Flag Same Status As American Flag Brewer also signed separate legislation Monday to expand the list of flags that HOA residents could fly despite regulations to the contrary.

Current law overrides any rules when it comes to the U.S. flag, the flags of any branch of the military, the state flag, the POW-MIA flag and the flag of any Indian nation. The new law will add the Gadsden flag to that protected list, that yellow flag with the drawing of a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.” http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/19/jan-brewer-tea-party-flag/

what an insult to all proud men and women who served this country.

Kyle Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

Wow, way to latch onto a such a crucial issue to announce to us all. Do you honestly think anybody but you, and possible a handful of people looking for a reason to complain, care what flags are allowed by homeowner associations in Arizona? Way to focus on the important topics.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe he/she likes to be trod upon and can't stand that other people don't. To him/her it might be the most important issue at hand.

jonas_opines 7 years, 1 month ago

"In the end, Obama’s birthplace is unlikely to be a decisive issue."

Which is flat fraggin insane.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

It's a bit interesting that the article refers to Obama's birthplace as an unproven allegation.

The little bit of research I've done suggests that it is in fact proven to be false.

somedude20 7 years, 1 month ago

As a Democrat, I fully support Bachmann and Trump! This is great as ALF could beat those two. Palin, ha! Unless they steal the election like GWB did, twice (FL,OH) these three stooges will only help SNL get better

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago


The one to watch, in my opinion, is Romney.

I thought he looked like a pretty good candidate for them last time around, and was concerned about him then.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

You'll need trump to get an obama win. You don't buy a used car from the same salesman twice unless the other salesman is equally sleazy with a silly looking combover.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 1 month ago

somedude, splash some water on your face. The public is angry. You folks got the pass in Prez Obama sliding in with media help.

Oh my o my are there going to be some wonderful campaign ads. These won't be aimed at hard core libs, they will be aimed at the folks who got fooled by the empty suit.

hahhahahhahahah..........the libs have nothing to show for 2 years of owning the the Hill and presidency. Except misery.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

The public is angry.

Just as they were angry at the Republicans in the 2008 election.

Neither major party is a satisfying choice.

But the T-Party doesn't represent a reasonable alternative, in my view.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

We'll see what happens.

I would be glad if the T-Party has a positive effect on politics, but I'm not very confident they will.

My prediction is that they will either be corrupted or remain rather insignificant in the larger picture.

tolawdjk 7 years, 1 month ago

Check your Scripture, Jesus drives a Lincoln.

KSWingman 7 years, 1 month ago

I think he drove a Honda.

Acts 2:1- When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one Accord.

Liberty275 7 years, 1 month ago

jesus built my car it's a love affair mainly jesus and my hot rod

tbaker 7 years, 1 month ago

"Still, it’s early. History advises that presidential nominating contests often produce surprises, especially in the challenging party."

We've yet to see the "suprise" that produces the kind of candidate that will beat the President. The current field of potential GOP candidates do not have what it takes.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Thank goodness for the teabaggers! They will ensure a Democratic Congress and another term for President Obama!

Gene Wallace 7 years, 1 month ago

Woulld you call your Mother a Teabagger, if she joined the Tea Party Movement? http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tea_bagging

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe, but my mother has a better sense of humor than you.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

My mother is dead, but she was too smart to buy the teabagger lies and hyperbole.

verity 7 years, 1 month ago

That's pretty much what I was thinking.

mloburgio 7 years, 1 month ago

Meet The Religious Right/Tea Party Ministry At The Heart Of Capitol Hill Today, I think with the new class in were up to probably sixty Evangelicals now holding office. http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/meet-religious-righttea-party-ministry-heart-capitol-hill

Tea Party Jesus: Koch's Americans For Prosperity Sidles Up to Religious Right for 2012 Campaign http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150622/tea_party_jesus%3A_koch%27s_americans_for_prosperity_sidles_up_to_religious_right_for_2012_campaign/

The Tea Party Propaganda Factory You Probably Don't Know About http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/150672/the_tea_party_propaganda_factory_you_probably_don%27t_know_about/

NAACP Exposes Ties Between Tea Party and Racist Extremist Groups The Tea Party movement has links to white supremacists, anti-immigration groups, 'birthers' and other extremists, according to new report. http://www.alternet.org/rights/148569/naacp_exposes_ties_between_tea_party_and_racist_extremist_groups/

jesus camp trailer "Evangelicals terrorist" leading the country " t-bags" watch the movies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNfL6...

Mike Ford 7 years, 1 month ago

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tomatogrower 7 years, 1 month ago

I thnk Trump's a decoy. Send him in, have him bring up the moronic birther issue again, and the other candidates will look so moderate compared to him, people will want to vote for them.

verity 7 years, 1 month ago

Usually I agree with you, but I'm not so sure on this one. I think the "more moderate" Republicans like Boehner are afraid of them and think they need to pacify them on the one hand and on the other hand, they are afraid that the TP will drive away voters.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 1 month ago

Remember when saying that "We will Tea Bag someone" meant that "we'd put then in hot water", just like putting "Their Feet to the Fire". Both were forms of torturous punishment a couple hundred years ago. Now when Liberals and Progressive use the terms "tea bagger" or "tea bagging" in reference to the Tea Party Movement, they mean this: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tea_bagging

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

No I'm thinking more like this: http://gawker.com/#!5206967/the-history-and-point-of-teabagging A loosely organized bunch of illinformed folks who are being manipulated by wealthy interests and are ripe for ridicule because of their own ignorance. Now if you weren't so insecure in your sexuality, it wouldn't raise your dander so.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

If I recall correctly, it was the organization's first name for itself.

They changed it after they found out what it meant.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77rtyQ... Video from a recent Tea Party rally in South Carolina. I'd say Seeker is pretty spot on.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 1 month ago

I actually think a lot of this piece (which is an opinion piece, not "news") is wishful thinking. The antics of the GOP in the House, since they gained control of it last fall, have done more to raise Obama's favorability numbers than a squillion dollars spent by the Democratic party.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Not all opinions are equal.

Some are based on facts, and are more informed than others. And some are more well thought-out, without significant flaws in logic or reason.

It is true, unfortunately, that an uninformed voter's vote counts as much as an informed one - that's why we need a good public education system, to make sure that everybody in this country is educated to at least a minimum basic standard.

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