Washington (CNN) – House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told conservative activists Thursday that the Republican Party should not try to take over the Tea Party movement, but rather work closely with these grassroots activists.
“The Republican Party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” Boehner said during his speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do is as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
After his own speech to activists attending this three-day annual event, Florida GOP Senate hopeful Marco Rubio told CNN’s Candy Crowley that his party should embrace the Tea Party movement.
"We hope the Republican Party is the home of that movement and that's what we are working toward making sure that it is," Rubio said. "When Republicans are about limited government, Republicans are successful. When they are about anything else, Republicans are not."
At a meeting with Tea Party activists in Washington Tuesday night, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele pledged that the GOP would not meddle in local races – especially Republican primaries featuring candidates backed by Tea Party activists.
And former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin recently suggested that people aligned with the Tea Party select one of the two established political parties.
As for the Tea Party activists, they tend to be male, from rural areas, upscale, and overwhelmingly conservative, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday.