Davis says Tea Party's effect on GOP remains unclear
January 26th, 2011
01:27 PM ET
4 years ago

Davis says Tea Party's effect on GOP remains unclear

(CNN) – Tom Davis, the former Republican congressman who has become a leading moderate voice within the party, says it remains to be seen if the Tea Party movement will prove to be a positive force within the GOP's fold.

"The courtship between the [Republican] Party and the Tea Party at this point is ongoing," the former seven-term Virginia congressman told a gathering of reporters Wednesday. "It's a trust-but-verify thing. At one point the Tea Party had a higher approval rating than the Republican Party, but of course they've never had to govern anything."

But Davis, the president of the moderate-leaning Republican Main Street Partnership, added the Tea Party movement doesn't quite make him nervous yet, so long as they can prove to peacefully co-exist within the GOP's framework.

"Coalition changes are usually uncomfortable for some people," he said. "But parties are nothing but a coalition of interest groups."

Davis' comments follow President Obama's State of the Union address, after which two Republican's delivered a response – one, Rep. Paul Ryan, on behalf of the GOP and the other, Rep. Michele Bachmann, on behalf of the Tea Party movement. The visual of two Republicans delivering separate responses to the president was a stark sign to some that the Tea Party movement has yet to fully embrace the GOP as their home.

"Their ability either to be absorbed by the Republican Party or to …go a third way is yet to be determined," said Davis.

The next test for the Tea Party could be the strength they wield in nominating a Republican presidential candidate – a process that in recent election cycles has been dominated by socially conservative members of the party.

But Davis already sees clear signs social conservatives may play a secondary role in the upcoming primary season as a result of the Tea Party's energy - none more clear than the invite list for the Conservative Political Action Conference next month, traditionally a gathering of only bona fide social conservatives.

"CPAC has focused on bringing in people of varying backgrounds this time and are being boycotted by various social conservatives," he said. "So I think that says a lot.


Filed under: Tom Davis
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Sgt Schultz

    The only thing many on the left and right (including Tea Party) can stand united on is a general dislike for business as usual politics. We are both tired of the establishment constantly selling-out to the army of lobbyists in D.C. The Dem's BARELY defeated Bilary in the primaries in the belief that Obama will be a reformer. Both parties have too many deadbeats that only care about their big $ sponsors instead of the people they are "suppose" to represent.

    January 26, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. lil

    GOPers and Tea Partyers on in the same they are all Bullies.

    January 26, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Rep. Tom Davis has respect for the American people. Unlike his Rep. colleague Georgia Rep. Paul Broun. who said the President don't believe in the Constitution but believe in socialism.

    I have always maintain elected officials should have some education. Instead of "running to the bottom of the class". Obviously Paul Broun lacks civility, education, moral and common sense. A lunatic at best!!!!

    January 26, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. LovesIrony

    All these social conservatives are not social and not conservative. They are bigots that want more government in people's personal lives. I hope they all go to Lucifers realm when their self righteous petty lives end.

    January 26, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. AEJ

    Repl. Tom Davis said it best unlike Rep. Paul Broun who lacks civility, common sense, EDUCATION (which lack of education reflect in one's behaviour). Paul Broun said the President of the United States don't believe in the Constitution,but believe in socialism. Medicare. Medicad, Social Security, the bill approve by George Bush for medicine for seniors (without paying for it) are the BIGGEST socialism items.

    Paul Broun is certainly "running at the bottom of the class". Is this the type Americans really want in office to make decisions for them? PAUL BROUN IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!!! He is truly Tea party intellectual.

    January 26, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    The most important thing about the Tea Party is certainly not the status of its formal organization or what that means to Republicans. It is the message of the Tea Party and the enormous popularity this has across the country. Small government with controlled spending and scope of reach. This is what it is all about. Embrace this message and people will support it.

    January 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    If they keep being treated as they were last night then don't count on a great relationship. The camera work on their rebuttal was an atrocity. The media like the Democrats and now the Republicans are scared of the Tea Party. THEY DANG SURE BETTER BE. WE ARE THE PARTY OF PATRIOTIC AMERICA.

    January 26, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    ["Their ability either to be absorbed by the Republican Party or to …go a third way is yet to be determined," said Davis.]

    The GOP ............ IS ............. the Tea Party!!!! Does this guy think we all got up this morning and took 2 "stupid" pills???

    January 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. The Other Michael in Houston

    So if the Tea Party is not a militant arm of the Republican Party, then why do all the Tea Party Congress People label themselves as Republicans? Just because you change your name from KKK to Tea Party does not change the fact that most of you are facist, bible thumping lunatics who should remove yourself from my country if you do not like it!

    January 26, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Now the GOP are concerned about the effect the tea baggers have on them, what about the negative effect they've had on the country and their disrespect for our President while the GOP stood by and said nothing. The only ali the GOP have is the Democrat Party.

    January 26, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Rev Mike

    In other words lovesirony if we don't think just like you we should go straight to hell? What a small world you live in!

    January 26, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Seriously? Does this nitwit really expect us to believe that Astroturf Frankenstein wasn't stitched together and brought to life in order to provide the GOP with political cover for moving far FAR to the right in order to counteract Obama predictably acting like a centrist? That the GOP hasn't done precisely that in order to shift the appearance of where the center lies and leave Obama to the left of it despite being pretty much standing right where the center used to be located? Christ almighty...the guy passed a health care reform act that pretty much mimicked what the GOP proposed in the 90's in response to Clinton's plan and just told them last night that he'll give them the patients-rights-threatening tort reform they wanted. But you see, giving them what they want isn't allowed to work...it still represents a victory for Obama if it happens (unless it's something like repeal of what amounts to an already major victory for him)...so they have to flee from any compromise whatsoever by moving the goal posts further to the right every time he tries to score. It's like the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs draws a line in the sand in front of Yosemite Sam, who then steps across it, so he draws another line and it keeps happening ad infinitum. McConnell was even lying a couple days ago when he said that they'd stop voting NO on everything if Obama would jsut do as they want...they won't...they'll just say "oops, wait a second, we want more." The Teatards serve the purpose of giving them their justifications and excuses for doing exactly that.

    January 26, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Rickster

    "A new estimate predicts the federal budget deficit will hit almost $1.5 trillion this year, a stunning new record."

    Heckuva job, Barry....you incompetent amateur.

    January 26, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. S. In California

    [P]ea Party/Republicans – whatever. They ALL equal one thing: ignorance.

    January 26, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Thanks Tom!

    We need more moderates to speak up. Like it or not, most people in the country are in the center – that's why it's the center! – so that's where things will get done. Let the people at the far ends of the spectrum scream themselves out - even though they get disproportionate media attention they don't represent the majority.

    January 26, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. NVa Native

    Sadly there are so few Republicans left in Congress with Mr Davis grasp on reality and what all of his constituents want him to do. He earned respect from both sides. Unfortunately like George Allen most Republicans never understand their responsibility to work for the benefit of ALL citizens. Tea-buggers are a mindless & selfish herd funded by corporations and the very wealthy of which most of them aren't. Fools who are addicted to hate & fear.

    January 26, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |