May 23rd, 2010
11:51 AM ET
13 years ago

Pawlenty, Rendell disagree on Tea Party movement's impact

Washington (CNN) – In the wake of Rand Paul’s win last week in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, both national parties are trying to figure out just what to make of the Tea Party movement, the conservative, grassroots movement that backed Paul and has coalesced in opposition to policies of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

Democrats and Republicans disagree on the impact of the movement, and those differences were on display Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pennsylvania, defined the movement as “the anger that people feel towards incumbency” and added that “it has some power particularly in Republican primaries.”

But Rendell was quick to dismiss any suggestion that the conservative movement could help the GOP best Democrats in general election face-offs. Pointing to Democrats’ victory last Tuesday in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, the Democratic governor said “the Tea Party was not a factor in that election at all” even though PA-12 has a track record, in Rendell’s words, of being “a Republican-performing district.”

Instead of fearing the Tea Party movement’s impact on Democrats, Rendell said the grassroots movement may be doing a disservice to the GOP.

The movement “is a difficulty for the Republican Party,” Rendell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Rendell pointed to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (who decided to skip his state’s GOP Senate primary and run without a party affiliation) and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (who did so poorly at a recent state convention that he did not even make it to the GOP primary) as casualties of the Tea Party movement’s fervor.

And the Democratic pol said the Tea Party movement’s influence in GOP primaries will help Democrats this November.

“I think the Tea Party movement candidates are going to be more easy to beat in a general election. I think that’s the case with Rand Paul,” Rendell told Crowley.

For his part, Minnesota’s Republican governor said he was glad to have the Tea Party movement affiliated with the GOP, despite its potential pitfalls.

The movement represents “new energy, new ideas, passion around these themes of we’ve had enough, government’s too big, the debt’s too big,” Tim Pawlenty said Sunday also on State of the Union.

“And to the extent that accrues to the Republican side of the ledger, that’s a helpful thing. We’ll take that energy. It’s still a little chaotic in some ways but it’s a good thing.

“Every generation has an insurgency in politics. It brings new energy, new people, new ideas. I’m glad that energy is on the side of the conservatives and the Republicans in most of these races,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty was diplomatic when discussing Dr. Rand Paul, who stumbled as he stepped onto the national political stage in the wake of his primary victory last week.

“His comments about the Civil Rights Act [of 1964] were unfortunate and he’s since then said that he would’ve voted for that civil rights act. His explanation was unfortunate – how he got to that point,” Pawlenty said of the Kentucky ophthalmologist.

Still, Pawlenty’s analysis of the political climate roughly six months before the midterm elections resonated with many of the themes of Paul’s insurgent campaign.

“I think people are sending the message,” the Minnesota governor said, “that they think government is too big, spending’s gone up too fast, and taxes are too high.

“And that’s why I think Republicans are in a better position coming into this fall than our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

Filed under: 2010 • Ed Rendell • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Tea Party movement • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. TTommy

    I don't consider myself a Tea Party member, although I have sent money to certain candidates I like and they support. And with every movement, there are fringe members who want to attach themselves to it. In fact, that's the only reason I don't join them. I don't want to be associated with the lunatics. But as an American, I am proud to see such a grassroots organization come together. And frankly, the more people like Pelosi, Reid, and Obama attack them, the more I like them. They must be doing something right.

    May 23, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. ac

    Rand Pauls comments about Business accidents with BP and Mining where people die could also apply to individuals. A drunk driver just accidentally kills someone and does not need to go to jail or a gun just accidentally goes off and kills someone so that person does not need to be prosecuted for murder. I see his point now, many accidents just happen in life. I'm not buying his BS.... This Tea party is a little racist, a little rich and a little selfish and a little to white. They do not to want to pay their fair share and think business should be able to do anything they want without consequene.America did that for the last 8 years!How did that work for us? Not so good. Enron – BP – Haliburton – the list goes on and on.

    May 23, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. ann

    hate and ignorance makes a weak cup of tea. the shelf life on this group of angry, white racists will be up soon, very soon. especially with the likes of rand paul............geezzzzzzzzz

    May 23, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. carlos

    landslide.....and the repugnants will be buried under it.......good thing

    May 23, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. TTommy

    I find it interesting, first, the Tea Party was ignored and sniffed at by the democrats as unworthy of their attention. Then, when it started to become a force, it was marginalized by the dems and call an "astroturf" movement. The idea was to try to make in a non-relevant organization. And now that it has become a real force in American politics that no smart democrat can ignore, the dems especially are trying to demonize it. I just cannot help but like the idea that normal citizens, not political, lifer, hacks are starting to assert themselves. And for those of you who are now trying to savage the movement, the fear is showing through in your words. I'm a free thinking independent, but I admire the Tea Party for what it has accomplished. And the last thing I would do if I were a democrat is underestimate the determination and fury of the Tea Party members.

    May 23, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Brenda


    Through the Tea Party-–this is another means for voters to understand who the candidates "really' are-and what they 'really' represent.

    When the voters see thousands of people rallying/protesting "AGAINST" a candidate-–they then ask themselves-–"do i really know this person that i was thinking of voting for'.

    And, "yes'--the Democratic Senator that was the hold out vote for obamacare due to the abortion issues (i can't thnk of his name now)--definitely decided to 'retire' due to the pressure he knew that he would be facing from the Tea Party- because he voted for Obamacare at the end.

    May 23, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Elizabeth in Seattle

    Obama is NOT a SOCIALIST. I cannot believe the people who say that Obama is a socialist. Get educated. Obama was hit with many, many problems by President Bush – look – he is the one who got us on this path in the last 8 years – wake up. Obama has to clean this mess up. A year and a half is not even close to enough time for Obama to clean a 8 year mess up. The next president in 2016 after Obama won't have enough time even if he/she is a Republican to clean Bush's mess up. STOP BLAMING OBAMA. HE DID NOT CREATE THIS MESS. He has done what he has had to do. WAKE EVERYBODY. Read about the last 9 years. Bush came in with things in good shape from Clinton, but sure undid all of Clinton's good.

    May 23, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. gg

    Gov. Rendell is correct in his assessment. What would you expect Pawlenty to say... "the teabaggers are making the rest of us Republicans look like complete ignoramuses"?

    May 23, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. pkfops

    The Tea Party may be a good tool to help the GOP repair itself but will have no impact on the legislative process. If the GOP wants to send junior level lawmakers to Washington I guess it's their choice.

    May 23, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Robrob

    “that they think government is too big, spending’s gone up too fast, and taxes are too high."

    All of which happened under the previous (Republican) administration and yet not one peep out of the Teabaggers before the election of a Democrat.

    Why is that?

    May 23, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. linell, former republican, Winter Park, FL

    "Boy did Barry Goldwater hit the nail on the head!! In a 1994 interview with the Washington Post the retired senator [Goldwater] said, "When you say "radical right" today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye." We are seein the results of it now.

    May 23, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. CedarRapids

    'I think that Gov Rendell forgets–that it is because of the Tea Party movement that many Democrats have decided to "retire', rather than face the rath of the voters in November.'

    I think at last count it was 18 dems and 19 repubs retiring, so I guess the tea party is having a bigger effect than even you thought huh?

    May 23, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. american grandma

    god help us all if the teabagging right wing republicans get to take over this country. they are the one that will put us under the rules of the american inquisition. Just take and listen to the teabaggers and right wing nut. The believe their way is the only way Much like the Inquisition, the taliban. It is so sad to see the direction these liars and haters want to take this great nation. Anyone can see that the teabagging right-wing nuts are the real threat to america and our way of like. Those are the real facts. Take off the blinders and stop listen to the right wing proraganda.

    May 23, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. govwatch63

    The fact that this article starts out talking about "both national parties" is exactly the reason the Tea Party exists; to break America and Americans out of the ridiculous, popular notion that there are 2 parties – Dem OR Repub, left OR right, with no free thinking citizens who know and understand the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

    We expect our representatives to uphold our American sovereignty and adhere to those tenets, regardless of party affiliation.

    And that, folks, is what the Tea Party is about. Nothing more, nothing less.

    May 23, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Discernment


    The Tea Party is mostly a bunch of ignorant wackos out of touch with the reality of running the affairs of a great nation. Don't get me wrong, I am not fully content with either the Democratic or Republican Party. But Tea Party advocates like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Paul should make wise citizens cringe with serious concern.

    Tea Party leaders like Rand Paul is anti-government and wants to deregulate everything. But Rand has no solutions other than call the government to clean up the destruction wrought by BP and tell out-of-work coastal fisheries tough-luck. The only answer Rand Paul have for disabled veterans is to take away their disability benefits.

    May 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. TexMil

    And which of these "new ideas" by the radical Tea Party movement is new? Please just name me one that is brand new, never brought up before. Truth be told, government "Increased" in size the most in history under the previous republican administration. But after 9/11 I don't hink they had a choice. Most of these idiot tea baggers are old white people, on social security and medicare. I'm old and white, but not quite yet on social security and medicare. I'm sure I pay more taxes than almost all of the tea partiers. But I still believe we should support our Commander in Chief regardless of whether he or she is a Dem or a Repub. I always thought that's what made us Americans. Stronger together than divided into little packs of whiners.

    May 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. George B from Ohio

    I'm all for free enterprise but some controls have to be in place; safe environment for workers, not poisoning our planet and the life on it, gambling away folks pensions, sending work offshore to be done by dissident student prisoners. The Democratic party tends to look out for the little guy AND tries to be fiscally responsible, quite the opposite of the Republican party IMO. The Tea Party is the party of all white all right angry folks who want all kinds of services but not pay taxes, give me a break. I think Republicans will make some gains in 2010, but demographics, the improving economy, the gap between the poor and the wealthy and the misdeeds of big corporations are working against them over the long haul, they will become more and more irrelevant in the years ahead.

    May 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Neanderthal Republicans

    The Republicans are trying to make the Tea Partier's out to be new voters that have not previously participated in politics. It is a simple case of opposing President Obama.

    He brought millions of new voters into the process in 2008. The GOP wants to claim they've done the same thing but they haven't.

    They did the same thing with Steele ... they had to have their black leaders ...

    They have such an inferiority complex regarding the President. Instead of trying to show the world that they are just as capable as the Democrats. Competence has NEVER been the strong suit of the Republicans.

    May 23, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Gpenn

    Personal income tax are at the lowest they have been for decades. I would love to see some truth in these discussions. It amazes me that these politicians spout these lies and half truths and the media never calls them on it. They just let the lies propagate.

    May 23, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. David

    The Tea Pary is not racist. It simply wants less government and less tax. We have too much of both no matter how you try to spin the situation. The CRA was not, I repeat, not needed in the 60's. The CRA was a direct intrusion into our lives and our businesses. You can paint it with as much blather about freedom on other platitudes, but it extended government where it is not supposed to be and is harmful to us today.

    Now, as to the BP situation. BP is a government owned company. It is controled by the British in much the same way that GM is controled by the US. As Rand Paul said, accidents do happen. If we were allowed to drill closer to land, the spill would be controled and the flow of oil stopped, but the nutty environmentalist will not allow this. Note that anyone can dril 50 miles off the US coast without permission, this is international water. I you have ever worked an oil rig, which I have you would know that some times there is little you can do to control a blow out. It happens, but we need oil. The Obama dream of a life without oil is not based in reality. So get out of the way and let us drill.

    It is amazing to read the commets of liberal and try to understand how they manage to even breath.

    May 23, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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