Tea party leader Amy Kremer is chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. She left the real estate and airline industries to enter politics in 2009, helping to found the Atlanta Tea Party. She went on to found Tea Party Patriots, left it amid a dispute, and then joined Tea Party Express. She was the guest speaker at the April 5 Monitor breakfast in Washington.
Her favorite presidential candidate for 2012:
"I am asked that question every single day, and honestly I have remained completely neutral.... We have to, because of our partnership with CNN for the first-ever tea party presidential debate" tentatively slated for sometime Labor Day week.
The idea of a third-party effort in the 2012 presidential election:
"We have two very viable parties – the Republican Party and the Democratic Party – and we need to work from within to change those parties. And we don't need to form a third party, because all you are going to do is split the vote."
The wisdom of the Tea Party Express strategy of endorsing candidates:
"We can have rallies 'til the end of time, but you are standing on the sidelines having a rally. And while it does attract people to the movement, the way to effect the change is to engage in political activity…."
Critics who say the Republican Party is captive to extremists from the tea party:
"My response to that is I don't think there is anything extreme about balancing our budget. It is that simple."
Polls showing the tea party movement is losing popular support:
"Actually, I believe that this movement is growing. And while that opinion poll may reflect that it is waning, actually I find that people are still becoming engaged and wanting for Washington to get our budget crisis under control."
"It is amazing what we were able to accomplish in 2010 with no game plan or footprint ... [and] some of these candidates didn't have the resources that they needed. We need to get behind good solid candidates that have the resources that are viable going into 2012.... We don't regret any of our decisions of the candidates that we supported in 2010 whatsoever."
"There are many different groups in this movement and not any [one] group speaks for the entire movement.... At this point, we are only looking at ... potential candidates for the Senate and our Senate targets ... [which are] Sen. Olympia Snowe from Maine, Sen. Dick Lugar from Indiana, Sen. Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, and Sen. Ben Nelson from Nebraska."