Can The TEA Party Win On A National Level?

Bookmark and ShareWith the 2012 GOP field of presidential hopefuls lending numerous rumors and anticipation to it’s constituency the polls seem to be giving early indications that those names who have been there before have the advantage heading into the spring.

2008 candidates Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have been neck and neck in most polls and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich along with 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have been receiving a large helping of media attention. So with the polls showing the familiar names leading the pack, where does the TEA Party fit into all of this?

Most media outlets recognize CNBC’s Rick Santelli with launching the movement with a speech from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009 while giving a speech against the Obama administrations proposal to help homeowners with their mortgages. Keli Carender, blogger, teacher organized some of the earliest Tea Party style protests, before they were even called Tea Party protests. In February of 2009, Carender held a rally against the economic stimulus package in downtown Seattle. Ron Paul supporters credit him with launching the movement as far back as 2007 when the GOP held the keys to the White House and the federal budget deficit began to grow.

Despite who claims credit for the origins of the movement it flexed it’s muscles during the 2010 midterm elections. Some credit has to be given to the TEA Party movement for the Republicans taking the majority away from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. It was their message of controlling government spending and debt that propelled the GOP to victory.

So why is it that most polls for 2012 show the members of the ‘old guard’ as the early favorites? Sarah Palin is held in high regard by many who consider themselves TEA partiers but has shown little indication that she is making a run in 2012. Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the second straight year but in national polling is far behind the leaders. Tim Pawlenty has been campaigning to and garnering new found support amongst the TEA Party faithful but has yet to make any real gains to put himself on the same level of support as the early polling favorites. MN Rep. Michelle Bachmann has been hinting at a run and is the founder of the House TEA Party Caucus but has made many highly publicized gaffes and hasn’t even been a blip on the radar if the polling is any indication.

It is apparent from the results seen in 2010 that the TEA Party movement has a certain bit of influence. They are well organized and always draw media attention to their message of government fiscal responsibility. The question is can they bring the same message and support on a national level during a run for the White House as they did on the local level bringing a GOP majority to the House? The early polling doesn’t seem to say they can. It is very early in the process however and things can change quickly in the world of politics.

I believe that 2012 will be a huge test for the TEA Party movement. If they can get a candidate amongst the leaders for the GOP nomination they should be able to cement themselves as a true influence in national politics. If they fail to break through during THE largest race in the nation, they could be relegated to a mere footnote in American political history. Their message is a good one and seems to resonate with most Americans perception of the countries economic situation. Will that roll over into support from the independents that are necessary to win the White House? Time will only tell. Early indications however show that they have inroads to make within the GOP first.

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Bachmann Headed to South Carolina. But Not To Run for President

Bookmark and SharePolitics is one of those areas where you never say never. In a field where convicted felons can get elected and dead ones can get reelected, anything can happen. In 2006, no one really believed that a young State Senator from Illinois would become President of the United States within two years. And who would have ever imagined that a Saturday Night Live comedian would be able to steal an election to become a United States Senator? So when it comes to the 2012 presidential election , I will not say that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann doesnt have a snowballs chance in Hawaii, a state she just visited on Wednesday to address conservatives in, but I will say that she is not likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Yet Bachmann has embarked upon a tour of America that forces us to ask, if she is not running for President, what is she doing?.

A few weeks ago she gave an address before a conservative tax group in Iowa. This weekend she heads to Montana where she will be the keynote speaker at the Lewis and Clark County Republican Lincoln-Reagan dinner. Now comes word that on the 19th of this month, she will be heading to South Carolina, an early primary state, and one that is seen as a pivotal prelude to the delegate rich Southern primaries that follow it.

Bachmann claims that she merely wants to be a part of the discussion that takes place in 2012. She says that she wants to make sure that all the right issues are addressed in the right way. But for Bachmann to do that, she need not travel thousands of miles to address relatively small crowds of people every week. As a Congresswoman, she has a megaphone big enough for her message to get out. We all know this. That is why after many repeated questions about a run for President, Michele remained coy but admitted that the option is there and that she does not feel rushed to make a decision.

So what is Michele really doing?

Congresswoman Bachmann is trying to play it smart. Thats what shes doing.

No one really knows what the Republican presidential field will look like in 6 months. Aside from Romney, Pawlenty, Santorum and a few other names like Gary Johnson, Herman Cain and Fred Karger, we really cant be sure which way Republican allegiances will fall, because there is no certainty that other names like Gingrich, Daniels, Huntsman, Barbour, Huckabee, DeMint, Perry, Paul, or Palin, are going to be running. Depending upon the combination of candidates that finally do comprise the G.O.P. field, the possibility exists for a new name to enter the field, one that can consolidate the anti-establishment TEA Party movement and bridge it with the conservative base of the Republican Party.

Right now, few if any names are exciting large segments of the TEA Party and conservatives are not gravitating towards any one name yet. Depending on who finally enters the race, Bachmann could actually be that bridge between conservatives and TEA Party activists. Aside from Sarah Palin, few potential candidates other than Herman Cain, fire up that significant segment of the electorate. And Herman Cain really only has a regional base among those voters in the South. Jim DeMint is another very possible bridge between the Republican base and TEA movement members, but the chances of him running, while existent, are not very high. However; in the likelihood that Palin and/or DeMInt do not run who else is there to fill this TEA Party void? Michele Bachmann.

At the same time, we can not underestimate the ability of a well run campaign from some of the likely names running, to hit the right chords and attract both conservatives and the anti-establishment TEA groups. Mitt Romney may actually be able to pitch his Achilles heal, Romney-Care, as an example of states rights and differentiate his plan from Obamacare by demonstrating that the big difference was the right of the state to enact such a program, while at the same time being something that he always knew was inappropriate for a President and the federal government to impose on all the states. And on top of that, Romney does have a pleasing record of private sector experience and conservative credentials that will be attractive to many in the G.O.P..

Then there is Newt Gingrich. Underestimating him will also be a mistake. Newt is a true ideas man and the combination of ideas and a keen ability to articulate the heart and soul of conservatism and American exceptionalism, may astonish a broader spectrum of the electorate than some expect.

Other candidates who have the ability to tap into the overriding sentiments of the electorate are Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour and maybe even Tim Pawlenty.

The truth is, the evolving Republican field has the potential to be very crowded and filled with some of the most exceptional leaders the Party has had to offer in generations. In fact it could be so crowded that the conservatives, moderates, and TEA Party activists could be extremely divided and make this one of the closest nomination contests in modern history.

That is where Michele Bachmann comes in.

Bachmann is not going to run for President. She is however going to try to make sure that she selects the next Republican presidential nominee for President.

Regardless of who does or doesnt run, if Bachmann were to run, she would not be able to run for reelection to Congress in 2012 and her congressional seat is her real bully pulpit. However, by simultaneously hitting key primary and caucus states as she tours the country and fires up the forces, Bachmann kills two birds with one stone. She continues to fuel speculation about a presidential bid, a rumor that elevates her stature and solidifies her support from the TEA Party that she has come to represent, and the conservatives that are looking for a hero. This in turn will not only do what Bachmann said and be a part of the discussion, it will also allow her to become a kingmaker.

The Bachmann tour is designed to allow Micheles endorsement to be critical to the likes of a Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels or even a Newt Gingrich. If the G.O.P. presidential field is indeed crowded and if the vote is as divided as it currently looks like could be, Bachmanns fired up conservative and TEA Party forces could make the difference. Especially for someone like Mitt Romney.

To understand some of the motivation behind this, one must realize that Bachmann has found it necessary to make some bold tactical moves that can insure she has a seat at the Washington leadership table. After Republicans took control of the House, Bachmann had hoped to become the House Republican Conference Chair, the fourth highest post in the House. She was ultimately denied this position. Apparently, much of the House Republican leadership was uncomfortable with giving Bachmann the position because many deemed her to be too controversial and believed she participated in too much grandstanding. Imagine that, a politician grandstanding.

While Bachmann put on a happy face and offered her enthusiastic support for the man the leadership did want in the position, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, she was not pleased. Now she is trying to insure that she has a degree of power and influence that even Hensarling wont have..the ability to play kingmaker and determine who the next President may be. Of course in order for to this to work, a few things are required. One; Sarah Palin cant run and two, the field needs to be a crowded one that offers no clear favorite early on.

So despite all the rumors about a Michele Bachmann presidential candidacy in 2012, and regardless of how coy her answers may be when asked if she is running, Bachmann is not running for President but she is running to make sure that she has the ability to pick who the President will be. That said, I must reiterate my early statement……… never say never. In the end, who knows who will be running and exactly where the Republican convention delegates will fall? The Republican presidential nominating contest could be so close that the nominee is determined by Hawaii, where Michele just wrapped up her latest speaking engagement.

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