Today, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is planning to announce his candidacy for President of the United States. While former Florida Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry are likely candidates, there is no doubt that the influence of the grass-roots tea party movement is being felt this year.
To date, there are four announced candidates for President:
1- Texan Ted Cruz was elected to the US Senate in 2012, defeating an establishment-backed David Dewhurst. Texas tea party groups proved that the “news of the tea party’s death was greatly exaggerated” with the Cruz victory.
2- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul defeated establishment-backed Trey Grayson in 2010. He detailed both the campaign and tried to articulate the beliefs of tea party activists in his 2011 book, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington“. **** DISCLOSURE: I #StandWithRand)
3- The old, white establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, announced for the Democratic nomination yesterday. with a documented history of “accomplished service”.
4- Florida Senator Marco Rubio was elected, in 2010, over establishment-backed Charlie Crist, with overwhelming tea party activists’ support
More candidates will undoubtedly throw their hats in the ring but, to date, 75% of the field and 100% of the Republican field can trace their roots to the tea party movement. None of these candidates are “wacky witches” either. While each of the three may fail “ideological purity tests”, for some tea party activists, each subscribes to these three unifying principles:
1- the federal government needs to balance its budget
2- the tax code needs to be overhauled and the plan should be revenue neutral
3- the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land and needs to be followed
While Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was not “tea party backed candidate,” his record as Governor shows that he is worthy of conservatives’ support. The Wall Street Journal called the field “an embarrassment of riches” for movement conservatives:
It is too early to say whether tea-party voters will coalesce behind any one presidential candidate. But activists see the field as an embarrassment of riches, offering an array of alternatives to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is no tea party favorite. Also drawing tea party favor is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; he has no formal ties to the movement, but polls show he appeals to its followers because of his fights with labor unions and Democrats.
“The entire field, with the exception of Jeb Bush has been repopulated with compelling fresh faces,’’ said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative group that has backed tea-party candidates.
A January Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 45% of Republicans said they support the tea party. That’s down from a high water mark of 58% in 2010, but still a big share of the Republican party.
Two things are certain to me for 2016: Democrats will nominate an old, white candidate, backed by Wall Street, out of desperation and an ideological war, for the heart and soul of the Republican Party will play out in the GOP primary.
Hillary Clinton is a tired but shrewd politician; throwing another Bush at another Clinton won’t be a winning strategy (but Wall Street and crony capitalist America love this false dichotomy). The three tea party candidates are going to have to be careful not to bang one another up too much in the primary. Cruz will point of Rubio and Paul’s support for comprehensive immigration reform, Rubio will point out Paul’s deviation from the neoconservative foreign policy approach, and both Rubio and Paul will highlight Cruz’ inability to lead and work with the other side of the aisle. That’s fair game but the tone of the debate is important. If the three can follow Senator Cruz’ lead, tea party activists have a better than average chance to see one of our own defeat Bush for the nomination, then Clinton for the Presidency.
**** I mentioned that I support Senator Rand Paul for President. Should you want to learn more about the local, grassroots effort to elect Rand Paul President, visit RandPaulSanDiego.org or text RAND to 22828