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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The Tea Party movement has resonated with many Americans, as demonstrated by a March 15 Rasmussen Reports poll putting Tea Party candidates in third place with 21 percent approval among voters behind the Republicans at 27 percent and the Democrats at 34 percent. A December poll had put the movement in second place ahead of the Republicans.Skip to next paragraph
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Some Republican politicians have actively courted Tea Partiers, whose fiscal conservative focus is close to the Republicans' stated principles. Democrat politicians have largely shunned the movement.
"This year the momentum is away from the Democrats as they're the party in power, so Republican candidates espousing Tea Party views in general have a better chance in the midterms," Sabato said. "But movements like this have come and gone before, so it's still too early to say if the movement will survive long term."
In the near term, the mostly white movement faces a possible showdown with the religious right over divisive social issues. But its biggest challenge lies in tackling its extremist fringe, including those who equate Obama with Hitler and the "birther" movement that doubts Obama's U.S. citizenship and the legitimacy of his presidency.
"The majority of Americans can agree with the core principles of the Tea Party movement," said Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a conservative group that has provided training programs for Tea Party groups. "But if it allows itself to be defined by its extremist fringe, then it's lost."
THIS REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED
Around 11pm local time on November 4, 2008, America's first black president-elect strode out onto a stage in Grant Park in downtown Chicago and told a cheering crowd of about 250,000 that "change has come to America."
"I told my husband how afraid I was for America," she said, her hands held close to her face as if still clutching a blanket like a scared child. "Obama said he wants to fundamentally change America. But I don't want to fundamentally change this country."
"I love America the way it is," added Nagy, now a leader of the Northern Illinois Patriots.
Tea Partiers across the country recall a growing sense of anger well before presidential election night in 2008, as outgoing President George W. Bush helped prop up the teetering U.S. financial sector amid the worst downturn since the 1930s and issued emergency loans to struggling automakers General Motors and Chrysler. Under Obama, the government took stakes in both companies.
"I remember just screaming at the TV," said Tanya Bachand, 35, a trial lawyer and Connecticut state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. "I was frustrated long before Obama came along because of how much the government grew under Bush. To me Obama was like Bush, only much worse."