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. katiec

    Pawlenty, who backs and wants support from the tea party proves his
    narrow minded, radical, irresponsible mentallity.
    He is one who will say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear.
    One who will tout his abilities while failing miserably as governor of his state.
    Am so tired of the hypocritic, fear mongering, dishonest, radical right republicans pretending they truly care about us and our country while giving undying support to Wall St, obstructing anyt hing and everything regardless of merits and benefits and sacrificing us and our country for their party first, win at any cost tactics.

    May 23, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. wigginnutz

    To call the Tea Party movement "grassroots" is an insult to the term. When you are funded by Dick Armey and Ed Koch, one of the richest men in America, you cannot, by definition, be "grassroots". The Tea Party is nothing but Republicans who are mad they lost the presidential election. If they would have appeared during the Bush years, during the largest expanse of government spending in history, with their message, maybe they could have a little credibility. However, since they only appeared after they lost it is impossible to take them seriously. Democrats have won 7 of 8 special elections, so I think that after this November and the Dems retain control, we will hear little more from the Tea Party. If you truly want the smallest government possible with a completely free market devoid of government regulation and intervention, move to Somalia. It should be paradise to you. For me, I want my government strong enough to protect me from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I do not want the government in my personal life imposing their own version of values and morals upon me as the Tea Party and GOP desire. I want a government strong enough so I can pursue my own version of happiness and liberty, as long as I do not infringe upon the rights of others. That is why I vote Democratic.

    May 23, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. John

    Tea Party's impact? Pffft. It's just the right wing of the Republican party arguing with the extreme right wing of the Republican party.

    May 23, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    The president if he wants to pass any more legislation he had better do it before the midterm elections because once the republicans regain majority anything the president does will be in vain the republicans are totally anti Obama along with some democrats and after November congress will be stuck in a suspended state until 2012 .

    May 23, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. lila

    I have to agree with Rendell. The GOP has a long and elegant history which both the tea party and the neo-cons have both failed to tap into. Both the neo-cons and the tea-party are extreme and have ugly elements rooted in some of the core philosophy. Freedom has nothing to do with taking others freedom away. Do as you will as long as it hurts no other.

    May 23, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Dan in FL

    It's so easy to boil complex issues into cleaver sound-bites and gotcha-style jabs. The sad thing is that a vocal minority is able to sway public opinion with this kind of rhetoric; the Tea Party has merely turned this rhetoric up a notch.

    President Obama isn't out to destroy America, lobbyists are needed to educate legislators (but PACs are not), and neither political party has all the answers. We need to elect intelligent public servants, not political extremists who adhere to the party line. Open primaries are needed to move our political parties back to the center.

    May 23, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. The Veteran

    The Tea Party is nothing more than the Republican Party. They are one and the same. Come November, they will get beat again, because most Real Christians will not be apart of that mess.

    Conservatism is a religion all to itself. It is not Christian at all. In fact, it is the opposite. It follows the examples of the Pharisees.

    As for socialism: All of the troops in the U.S. military live under socialism. They have government provided housing and housing allowance, government provided medical care and insurance, government susidized childcare, and government provided and funded education. And many serve overseas in Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, England, etc., which are SOCIALIST NATIONS.

    Socialism isn't a bad word. Conservative, now that is a bad word.

    It is nothing more than idolatry cloaked in religion. When you peel away the fake religious covering, what you find left is hypocrisy. It breeds ignorance and hatred, and has nothing to do with Christ.

    Conservatives = Tea Party = Pharisees = Hypocrites

    May 23, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Brian Heckenberger

    More power to the Tea Party in that this will help oust more republicans out of congress. Most of the Tea party folks slant republican. Republicans are known to be less educated, they tend to revolve around money and greed more, and they tend to drive expoitation of the earth's natural resources in a direction which will eventually drive the planetary surface environment and the human species on it to extinction. Republicans are the little red monkeys at the historical end of the political evolutionary spectrum and human and political evolution will eventually lead to their extinction. The tea party baboons will only help that happen sooner.

    May 23, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. steve

    When Rand Paul said " we have come to take our country back" during his acceptance speech and the revelations of his backward views on discrimination and the civil right acts of 1964, we now know were he want to take the country. Segregationist era. Jim Crow era.
    Micheal steele should call on him to withdraw from the senate campaign Now.
    He has a future as the prince of Tea party movement or the president of the Klans men. That is were he belongs. Not in the United state senate.

    May 23, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. K.E

    As a democrate I would welcome a true and honest addition of a third, preferable fourth and fifth political party. It will force politicians more into compromising instead of a monopoly of only two parties. The teaparty is not ready for that yet beacause it will force them to put their money where their mouth is

    May 23, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Marion

    I think the Tea Party has been pretty successful at winning Republican primaries because it is the energized faction of the GOP right now. That gets it press, and I'm sure that it makes it look stronger in the minds of many people. However, the only time we've seen a Tea Party candidate go up against a Democrat in a general election is in NY-23, and we all know how that turned out.

    IMHO, the Tea Party is potentially a big problem for the GOP because it is dragging the party to the right. That may be just where the Tea Party supporters want it, but you don't win elections that way. Rand Paul, the darling of the Tea Party, sure didn't do himself or the GOP any favors with his comments this week. I'm sure he was trying to make the academic point that, in his mind, government shouldn't be telling private businesses who they must do business with, but it sure didn't play that way to the public at large, and he should have known it wouldn't. He may have scored points with his base, but he lost points with many other people, and his base wasn't going to vote Democrat anyway.

    I think that the Tea Party has a good deal of power within the GOP, but I'm not sure how that will translate to general elections, especially if they nominate more candidates like Rand Paul.

    May 23, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Just Saying

    Rand Paul, et al, are the Dems best allies.

    May 23, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. AnProf

    Fiscal Sanity. No one else will get my vote.
    Leaving this exploding debt to my children to pay off under an insufferably high tax burden in the future, while having to live in some Euro-style affordable "flat" is an outrageously immoral stain on our current generations. It is time for new citizens to emerge and oust those in power who have voted for relentless expansion of government, using credit and borrowing, as now seen in Greece and California.
    I'm not officially part of the 100,000+ "Tea Party" but I sure the heck am applauding and sometimes footing these efforts. And I can also tell you that "tea bags" have started popping up on bulletin boards on my campus, so the "Silent Majority" support is growing out there. Rendell and the Left can try to dismiss it, but the next 6 months will only see these undercurrents rise and swell in our country. We are mad as He!!

    May 23, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. em hunt

    The Tea Party came about due to extreme dissafaction of the taxpayers and voting public on both parties, being captives to special interest groups at the expense of "for the people, of the people, by the people" and most importantly, risking the interest and security of America, so that those politicians would have constant flow of campaign funds. There are a number of silent individuals who empathized with the Tea Party, they are not active participants, but they are actively watching their Agenda, its grassroots approach, and the movement gives them hope for a better America oversighted by the Tea Party. The Tea Party has a positive effect on the public, particularly, the ones who care about this country and where it is going, not only whites, but any other color who agrees with what the Tea Party is doing for the good of America.

    May 23, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. Cynthia

    Pawlenty was not the only one to blame for the bridge collapse. You people don't get it. There were several other administrations prior to Pawlenty, but we always seem to forget that when it will benefit one's political argument.

    The Tea Party movement is people wanting their country back. We are tired of being told we are not smart enough and that we need government officials to regulate our lives. Enough is enough already!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 23, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. People trend....

    The trend is a people trend and the hard working Americans are fed-up with Washington...from the White House to the Hill...only 23% approve...must be all the politican and their families........!

    May 23, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. az senior

    If your polls are correct and the Tea Party consists of only 2% active members, why bother?

    May 23, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Ancient Texan

    The posters that think the Tea Party Movement is a small, flash in the pan idea may be a little surprised in November. I would imagine for every ten thousand that goes to a rally, there is 100, 000 that would have loved to have gone but were unable. But they'll be able to go to their voting location in November. Enough of this wild eyed radical progressive take-over of America.

    May 23, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Ted H.

    If you look at the two biggest Republican headlines this year, one is Scott Brown, the other is Rand Paul. In reality, you would be hard pressed to find more than three or four things these guys passionately believe in. I'm a lifelong democrat, but I admire the tea party for shaking up the GOP and believe that in spite of their tendency to be maligned and scapegoated, they are tearing down the house of political collectivism that Tom Delay built. I look forward to a Republican party that's much more dynamic with a much more credible discourse.

    May 23, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. jim

    i really don't understand the republican's frequent references to socialist/socialism/communist activities. especially given the previous administration's use of torture, wire taps without warrants, and so forth. true americans would not tolerate such blatant illegal activites and yet these people would have us believe torture(among other things) are acceptable activities for an enlightened government,

    May 23, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. NJB

    I've had to live under Pawlenty for the last 7 years and I can tell you, our state is in MUCH worse shape than when he got it. Kind of like how our country went from surplus to deficits and almost a depression under 8 years of Bush. He's an arrogant go it alone individual that doesn't give a rat's ass about our state. All he cares about is looking good for a presidential run. Our schools have been devastated under that man- programs slashed, class sizes way up... We have a budget deficit that he has left for the next governor because he was too selfish to realistically deal with it himself and he blocked the legislature from doing anything with his stupid "little red pen."

    He touts his "no new taxes" knowing full well that property taxes are becoming unmanageable for many Minnesotans. The only people sitting pretty are the rich who pay way less of a percent of their income than the average Minnesotan. He wouldn't even take money the federal government was giving away for roads and bridges. I hope no one EVER forgets that he wouldn't take money to fix roads and bridges and then we lost many lives when one of our bridges collapsed. God help us if he ever gets the chance to bring a country down instead of just one state.

    You'd think people would have learned after 8 devastating years of Bush, but we still have sore losers in a rage wanting "their" country back. Why? So you can finish it off?? No thank you. Bush almost broke it, now Obama has to try to fix it with no help from the Republicans and tea baggers throwing their little tantrums. What idiots!

    May 23, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. NVa Native

    Far more Repubs have retired than Dems and there are more Dems in Congress. I know math and facts are demons the tea-baggers try to ignore and re-make (along with basic science) but it has to do with local politics.
    Interesting how the citizens (with papers and without) can gather huge crowds to denounce the demonizing of hispanics, but the small gatherings of angry white people who claim to be tea-baggers get all the "liberal (corporate) press"?

    May 23, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Kevin

    Gov Rendell is pretty much wrong on the PA 12. It is a district that is 2-1 Democrat over Republican, he can spin it any way he wants but that race was closer than it normally would have been. I don't think it had anything to do with Tea Party initiatives though, it has to do with Democrats in Washington spending Billions upon Billions upon Billions that (even SHOVEL ready projects) have yet to materialize on the ground. Dem's are in trouble and they know it. I applaud politicians that don't follow poll numbers and make tough decisions but Democrats have thumbed their collective noses at local voters for the last year and it will cost them in November. Voting along party lines are NOT tough decisions, these politicians cry that they are making tough choices, but they are cop out votes.

    May 23, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. Steve

    I fear the anti-incumbent sentiment in this country will end up being a cutting off your nose to spite your face outcome. We complain about government being too big, at the same time whining about our 'bailout' – I for one do not want to see our most experience legislators voted out of office only because they are currently in office. But, I have little faith in the American voting public ultimately doing the right thing, frankly...

    May 23, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. BS

    He's glad the big political upheaval is on the side of conservatism (it's not really, but let's let that go). Rather than being happy that these people are promoting a good message, or that they're getting useful work done, or helping people in need, he's happy that they further his petty political aims. Well done congress guy.

    May 23, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
1 2 3 4