Trouble brewing between the Tea Party movement and the GOP?
Members of the Tea Party movement say they are not beholden to the GOP.
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This has been noted by some on the religious right. "At the national level you have people saying it is all about fiscal issues and not about social issues because they say they are divisive," said Tony Perkins, president of Christian lobby group the Family Research Council.Skip to next paragraph
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Chris Merrill said while Tea Partiers can avoid divisive issues at meetings, they cannot if they run for office. "Running a campaign is different," he said. "At some point they have to take a stand on social issues."
Some say a showdown between social and fiscal conservative groups may be inevitable. "Fiscal conservatives want to limit the size of government, social conservatives want to use government to further their agenda," Henson said. "That will likely cause problems."
The other problem is the extreme fringe of the Tea Party movement, which was evident at a demonstration outside the Detroit auto show on a snowy day in January. More than half of the 20 or so protesters held signs protesting government bailouts. The rest held placards with black and white pictures of President Obama's face, with a Hitler mustache added.
Within minutes, both groups had moved to opposite corners of their allotted patch of concrete. Andrew Moylan of the National Taxpayers Union said with evident discomfort he had tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the Obama-as-Hitler posters. "I oppose Obama's policies vehemently, I don't agree with what he is trying to do," he said. "But I believe that he is well-intentioned, even if he is dead wrong."
"Comparing him to Hitler is not only wrong on so many levels, it also reflects badly on us because all the pictures in the papers and on TV will be of them," he added. "Our message will get lost in that."
Those who argued here that Obama is like Hitler say that healthcare reform would grant doctors the power of life and death over patients, as under the Nazi regime.
The movement has also attracted members of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which supports some white supremacist causes, and from the John Birch Society and the LaRouchies. In a February 19 column in the Wall Street Journal, former Bush adviser Karl Rove described both as "fringe groups."
"If tea party groups are to maximize their influence on policy, they must now begin the difficult task of disassociating themselves from cranks and conspiracy nuts," Rove wrote. "This includes 9/11 deniers, 'birthers' who insist Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and militia supporters espousing something vaguely close to armed rebellion."