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The Tea Party And The 2012 GOP Field

The list of GOP presidential hopefuls needs to walk a fine-line with the Tea Party folks:
Tea party activists are struggling to rally behind a single presidential contender as disparate groups with conflicting priorities balance candidate viability with conservative purity on policies that extend well beyond the spending concerns that spawned the movement just two years ago.

And Republican presidential campaigns are actively courting the grass-roots conservative movement for the passion, money and army of volunteers that fueled massive Republican gains last fall.

“Whoever the Republican nominee is, if they want to defeat [President Barack] Obama, they need to have the support of the tea party movement,” Tim Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant told Roll Call.

Reading between the lines, of course, one sees the suggestion that a GOP presidential candidate would not survive tea party hostility. And looking back at the last election cycle, it’s apparent the tea party is perhaps better suited to tear down candidates than to propel them to victory.
My emphasis.

...case in point: Delaware. Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell beat nine-term Congressman, and former Governor of Delaware Mike Castle to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate -- because he was too "RINO-y" for the Tea Party folks. But, much to Republicans' dismay, O'Donnell was easily defeated by Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate in the general election.

GOP candidates need to tread lightly when associating themselves with the Tea Party movement. While a candidate may get a bump from the far-right of the Republican party, they may risk losing the entire middle.

Moderates and independents don't usually throw their support behind this type of imagery.