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Republican convention looks like a tea party gathering

Most tea party Republicans have come to accept Mitt Romney as one of their own. But it's really Paul Ryan that they're enthusiastic about, and many of their champions are key speakers.

By Staff writer / August 28, 2012

Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin and his wife Janna, arrive at Tampa International Airport, in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday.

Mary Altaffer/AP

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Tampa, Fla.

The tea party movement, which exploded on the political scene not long after Barack Obama’s inauguration as president and was a huge force in changing the face of the US Congress two years later, is a strong presence at the Republican convention.

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Tea party values are reflected in the party platform, and tea party favorites are included among the major speakers – including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, slated to give the keynote address Tuesday night; Ted Cruz, favored to win the US Senate race in Texas; and Sen. Rand Paul, a founding member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress. Others include US Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

US Senate candidate and rancher Deb Fischer from Nebraska, a state senator who calls herself a “citizen-legislator,” got her three minutes in the spotlight Tuesday when she was one of the early afternoon speakers, one of several lesser-known tea party favorites sprinkled throughout the three-day convention’s program.

Then there’s Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick.

For the most part, tea partyers now support Mr. Romney, but many are even more enthusiastic about Mr. Ryan – particularly for the budget plan he crafted in the US House of Representatives, which challenged some of the traditional thinking about government spending among his party’s leadership.

Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer was asked this week whether she trusted Romney.

“Um, yeah,” she told CNN. “I think it showed he understands the problems we’re facing when he picked Paul Ryan as his VP. That was very courageous. It was risky, it was courageous, and I actually think it was a brilliant move.”

Others in the movement are more wholehearted in their support of Romney, or at least they accepted the inevitable once the other tea party darlings – Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann – fell away, climbing onboard the Romney bandwagon in order to maintain their influence.

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