July 20th, 2010
04:43 PM ET
4 years ago

Tea Party Caucus: Who's in and who's out

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Rep. Michele Bachmann proposed and pushed for the creation of a Tea Party caucus.
Rep. Michele Bachmann proposed and pushed for the creation of a Tea Party caucus.

Washington (CNN) - One day before the first official meeting of the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives, the big question on Capitol Hill which Republicans will join the new caucus?

Rep. Michele Bachmann proposed and pushed for the caucus. The conservative congresswoman from Minnesota, who's a favorite of many Tea Party activists, won approval for the new organization late last week from the Democratic leadership.

Bachmann tells CNN that she's invited "a number of members" to come to the group's first meeting, which will be held prior to a news conference to premiere the caucus.

But she says she already has a big name on board.

"The very first member to join the Tea Party caucus was Mike Pence who's the Republican Conference chair. That's a pretty big endorsement," says Bachmann.

Pence, a five term congressman from Indiana who may make a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, tells CNN that "having spoken at the 9/12 march on Washington, having spoken at Tea Party rallies, and the fact that I'm proud to be a Tea Party endorsed candidate for re-election, I was honored to join the Tea Party caucus."

Also signing up (at the time of this article's posting) are Republican congressmen Paul Broun of Georgia, Dan Burton of Indiana, John Carter of Texas, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday that he's already joined the caucus as well. At a news conference with reporters, Sessions defended the Tea Party movement as "sincere" and "serious."

Not joining are the two top House Republicans: Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

"It's Boehner's personal policy not be a member of any caucus other than the House Republican Conference," spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

Bachmann says she understands.

"Leader Boehner doesn't join any caucus other than the Republican Conference. That's his rule so that's certainly no repudiation," Bachmann said, adding she doesn't feel Cantor is rejecting the caucus either.

The year and a half old Tea Party movement has infused a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the GOP, and the party, trying to recover from major election defeats in 2006 and 2008, has to a degree, embraced the movement. But the creation of the Tea Party caucus comes as the anti-tax and limited federal government movement faces its biggest controversy.

Sunday the National Tea Party Federation expelled one of the largest and best known national Tea Party groups, the Tea Party Express, and its spokesman Mark Williams. The Federation, a three month old organization that seeks to represent the Tea Party political movement around the country, acted following of an inflammatory blog post Williams wrote last week about the NAACP. Williams says he wrote the incendiary blog post in response to an NAACP resolution last week that called on Tea Party leaders to crack down on racist elements in the movement.

Tuesday House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer questioned how many Republicans would want to join the new caucus.

"We'll see how many Republicans join the Tea Party Caucus and see whether or not they want to adopt the tea party agenda," the number two Democrat in the House told reporters at a news conference.

The Maryland Democrat also repeated what he stated on the Sunday talk shows, saying he didn't think the Tea Party movement itself was racist, but said he's "seen some virulent racist tracks, which I believe are harmful to the public discourse."

Bachmann says she hopes her caucus will eventually become bipartisan in nature.

"The first letter I wrote about the Tea Party caucus was to speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to invite her to also become a part of the Tea Party caucus, so I'm hoping Democrats and Republicans will come together to become a part of this caucus," says Bachmann. "We're not about any political party – it's about listening to the American people."


Filed under: 2010 • Congress • Michele Bachmann • Mike Pence • Tea Party movement
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. GonzoinHouston

    The Tea Party movement is the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party since, well, George W. Bush himself. If Obama wins a second term he should publicly thank them for making it easy.

    July 20, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. rs

    Bachmann is a party of one- she is flat out crazy!

    July 20, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. Marge

    How much more crazy can this person get. I am so glad that her people down in Minneapolis are becoming tired of her crazy antics. Her support slips daily. Instead of working to improve the lot of the people in her district this nutso is roaming around the country causing trouble and goodness knows what else.

    Minneapolis elected her to work for them not herself.

    July 20, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  4. MR AMERICA

    Bachmann is slime.

    And this is just another failed re-branding attempt.

    July 20, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. Zombie Jesus

    Tea Party: it's not just for little girls and their stuffed animals anymore. Now Republican adults want to join in the fun.

    Republicans: The fundamentals of their ignorance is strong.

    July 20, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. Jason

    I'm all about people having the right to gather and protest. That is what this country is all about, having freedom to speak against your government.

    I will say this though: Please do not follow Michelle Bachmann. This woman is out of her mind! I do not think I have ever heard an actual fact come out of her mouth. If she has, I would love to see it , then I will take my foot out of my mouth. When someone actually starts talking about the facts, she changes the subject to something else. She is just a Republican looking to use the Tea Party to rebrand herself and her party, which does not have the best interest of the average American in mind. If they actually started looking out for the little guy, their campaign finances would dry up in a hurry. Our government is bought by big business.

    July 20, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I still question where were these 'small government, anti-deficit' people for the eight years of the previous administration! And how stupid do they think we are trying to convince us that they're anything but a front for republicans. Over 90% of their endorsements go to republicans, many of whom are incumbents, many of those incumbents having themselves voting for increased government and spending under Bush, including the much hated bank bailouts! The Tea Party doesn't actually care for small government. They only care to parrot hypocritic slogans against democrats to get republicans back in power. And once back, the Tea Party will mysteriously forget their 'small government, reduced deficits' pledge once again.

    July 20, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. 'RUB' THE CLOWN

    WOW a special club for kooks. I can't wait to see who decides to join – John Boehner could roll in his sun lamp, and as the orange-ist person on the planet will probably represent the far end of the skin-tone spectrum. Or maybe even he has the good sense to steer clear of this historical novelty that plays like an "Onion" spoof. Victor Swift I like your Genie out of the bottle metaphor – so apt!

    July 20, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Peter E

    says Bachmann. "We're not about any political party – it's about listening to the American people."
    Yeah, right. That's why republicans even set up a website on "listening" to the American people, and on that website immediately specifying that only posts touting republicans' so-called conservative agenda will be posted.
    Hey republicans! The American people have spoken in 2008! You were thrown out of office! Why don't YOU start listening! People are fed up with your tired old agenda that got us into this mess in the first place! Stop being such sore losers!

    July 20, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Jason

    On a less serious note that is beside the point, anyone who says Michelle Bachmann is attractive needs to take a second look.

    She's got a man face, a face that looks like that of a man. Same thing with Sarah Palin. They don't look good at all. Too much make-up, yes, but make-up on a guy does not make them not a guy.

    July 20, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. JPT

    Tea party caucus? I thought it said, "tea party circus"

    July 20, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. Steve, New York City

    I will not totally bash all of the Tea Party members! Some of them seem to have legitimate policy concerns with Washington.

    However, elements within this movement really strike me as hypocritical –
    Ok for them the complain about Obama's spending, but where were these people when Bush '43 and his FOOL Neo-con buddies were sinking us into the ground, with out-of-control spending and a war against Iraq based on FEAR AND LIES? These same people weren't complaining when Bush '43 did Tarp? Did you see any of them doing racist caricatures of Bush or leading some IMBECILE witch-hunt to prove that he has an American birth certificate? Why have thes people come out of the woodwork now?

    By the way, Michele Bachman is almost as big an IDIOT as Palin!

    July 20, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Superhiro

    Well... at least Boehner and Cantor weren't stupid enough to go to this thing.

    July 20, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  14. Sharron

    The GOP is so desperate that they will try anything, and supporting these crazy looneys from the Tea Bag Party they think they are gaining ground when in reality it is killing their own party.....

    July 20, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. hypocricnnation

    Congresswoman Michele Bachmann R-Minnesota Stars As Daffy Duck In The Next Warner Bros. Cartoon Hit. Born And Raised In A Coo-Koo's Nest!

    July 20, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    The closer Bachmann gets to the Tea Party, the farther I move away from it.

    July 20, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. D.

    Excerpts from tea party guys showing racism is ok to malign the entire organization! Ah yes!
    Excerpts from a woman talking in a racist way at NAACP are not ok to depict her as racist!?
    Excerpts from some people working for some general taken out of context are ok to fire the general!?
    What a relativity theory by liberal nonsense guys with no principles!

    July 20, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  18. Roger

    MB is what America is all about. She is bright and her views of limited government is what guided us to economic levels admired throughout the world. For those who have different views, state your position with credible (no lies) rationale and support but for once cut out the character assasination. Remember Obama was going to bring us together but instead he sure has created a divisive America that is jeopardizing not only our economic system but also our freedoms. Certainly Chicago style politics and its thuggery modus operandi is not the road to recovery nor it in the interest of restoring our respect throughout the world.

    July 20, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. marylandvoter

    The rag-tag collection of so-called Tea Party groups is reminiscent of, a throw-back to the “Old Right” days: The 1950’s McCarthy and the 1960’s Goldwater eras: Blind, rabid attacks against everything and everyone that they hate.

    The same old bromide: Vast conspiracies that are so immense and simplistic fantasy “solutions” to our complicated problems, such as: Term limits (naïve politicians who will magically “do the right things” and a Balance Budget amendment to the Constitution. (Just to name a few. Now details seem to be lacking at this point, I guess it will be sorted out later?)

    Oh, by the way, watch “moral” TV shows like: Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best and pay lip-service to the Bible, too. Oh, and, at lest, I forget, the Constitution, too!

    Remember the old French saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    July 20, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. Donnatella

    This woman is stark raving mad, she needs to see a therapist, Michelle I don't know why anybody would want to join you and your racist tea party.

    July 20, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. George of the jungle

    gee maybe they can discuss the inquirey into the gold scam that has fox personalities like glen beck and ol fred whats his name and hukabee as spokes people. The tea baggers are a joke . Better to spend their time working on improving this country. We will at least know not to vote for come november. Thanks for getting the unemployment extention passed mr president.

    July 20, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  22. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Who's in, who's out ... who cares.

    Besides, REAL AMERICANS DON"T DRINK TEA!

    July 20, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  23. Naqib

    Dems are done...

    Think I'm wrong... we will know by December 1st. Which is phase 1... need the whitehouse 2 years later... and at this rate.. should be no problem.

    Obam is less than 50% supported nation wide. Look state by state... he gets the vast majority of his 50% from Firm Dem States... Illiniois, NY, Cali, etc...

    In the battle states... it's less than 1/3 support. The national numbers are a farse... the electoral is what gets the job done.

    BYE BYE HOUSE come Nov... BYE BYE Senate/Whitehouse 104 weeks later!

    July 20, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Muffet

    I can't wait to see who the congressmen and congresswomen are.
    The gift horse that keeps on giving.

    July 20, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. billybob 'n NC

    This is exactly the reason I am an ex-repub from N.C. These idiots have hi-jacked the party and turned it into a party of extremists. There is no longer a place for a moderate with a brain.

    July 20, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
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