July 21st, 2010
12:07 PM ET
13 years ago

New caucus says it won't vouch for Tea Party

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/21/art.bachmann.0320p.cnn.jpg caption ="Rep. Michele Bachmann is a member of a newly formed Tea Party coalition in Congress."] Washington (CNN) - The founder of a new Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives says her group's main mission is to listen to Tea Party activists concerns, but not to serve as a mouthpiece for the movement or to vouch for actions by Tea Party members.

"We decided to form a Tea Party caucus for one very important purpose: To listen to the concerns of the Tea Party," said Rep. Michele Bachmann, at a news conference Wednesday morning following the first meeting of the caucus.

"We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party. We are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington DC. I am not the head of the Tea Party."

"We are also not here to vouch for the Tea Party, or to vouch for any Tea Party organizations or vouch for any individual people or actions or billboards or signs or anything of the Tea Party. We are here to listen and to be a receptacle."

Bachmann said 24 representatives attended the first meeting. Twenty-eight Republican members of the House are listed as members of the caucus (see list below), including two high ranking members of the GOP House leadership, Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

Pence, a five term congressman from Indiana who may make a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, told CNN Monday that "having spoken at the September 12th 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."

Sessions, a seven term representative from Texas, Monday described 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 told CNN on Monday, adding she doesn't feel Cantor is rejecting the caucus either.

Bachmann, a 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.

"We want to have a bigger earphone to listen to the people. We may possible meet next week," Bachmann told reporters. "Our goal is to continue an on-going dialogue, in real time."

Bachman added that she is renewing a call for allowance of House members to use Skype in their offices, which is currently banned. Bachmann said the online communication service would make it easier to talk with constituents and vice-versa.

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," Bachmann told CNN.

CNN's Evan Glass, Jim Acosta, and Bonney Kapp contributed to this story

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Michelle Bachman of Minnesota (founder of the caucus)
Todd Akin of Missouri
Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland
Joe Barton of Texas
Gus Bilirakis of Florida
Paul Broun of Georgia
Michael Burgess of Texas
Dan Burton of Indiana
John Carter of Texas (Republican Conference secretary)
John Culberson of Texas
John Fleming of Louisiana
Trent Franks of Arizona
Phil Gingrey of Georgia
Louie Gohmert of Texas
Peter Hoekstra of Michigan
Walter Jones of North Carolina
Steve King of Iowa
Doug Lamborn of Colorado
Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
Gary Miller of California
Gerry Moran of Kansas
Mike Pence of Indiana (Republican Conference chairman)
Tom Price of Georgia
Pete Sessions of Texas (National Republican Congressional Committee chairman)
Lamar Smith of Texas
Cliff Stearns of Florida
Todd Tiahrt of Kansas
Joe Wilson of South Carolina

Filed under: GOP • House • Michele Bachmann • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. ron

    Well, well, well. Who is she lying to now? The republicans who voted her into congress or the tea party folks who have made her rich and famous? She's trying to have it both ways: keep the republican vote and represent the tea party. Like we say in my line of work lady – "time to "crap" or get off the pot!"

    July 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Doc

    "We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party."

    Sure...and the Black Caucus is not the voice of concerned African American Citizens?

    July 21, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. rdepontb

    She is so pretty, has such a sweet smile, that it is an absolute shock to hear the ideas that come out of that head of hers. I cannot make heads nor tails of her positions from one day to the next, except to blindly bring down the President.

    July 21, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Wisconsinite

    Funny, she's seems to have been a "mouthpiece of the Tea Party" up to now. Back pedal much, Bachman?

    July 21, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. brian in denver

    Just what the t.p. needs: endorsement from another crackpot.

    July 21, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Ruth

    Bachman is a fool. You people who voted for her deserve her.

    July 21, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. truerepublican

    Bachmann's a joke. When a foreign company cut corners leading to the death of 11 American workers and the largest oil spill in US history, Bachmann expresses sympathy for BP instead of Americans. That gut reaction to back a large company in such a situation is a dangerous sign. People like that are easily bought and sold.

    July 21, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. nomad

    How appropriate. You need only listen to a few of the interviews conducted with this skank to realize she is "out there". Still, teabaggers need somekind of congressional voice I suppose; may as well be someone with a similar "glassy eyed venomous rant".

    July 21, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. kyle from ohio

    Then what are you doing Ding Dong; the purpose of a caucas is to be the mouthpiece, the leadership in congress for the cause what every it may be!!!! So once again a grandstand position made for this small group of people who say their for one thing, but their action or in some cases non-action speaks very loud. Again tax-cuts does have to be paid for, or does less revenue not mean anything.

    July 21, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Haas

    Mrs. Bachmann, you can't have your tea and drink it too...or not drink it...or...what ever.
    You can listen to Tea Party activists as a republican and without a Tea Party Caucus.

    July 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Dern Foley

    Michelle Bachman, Joe Barton, Dan Burton, Phil Gingrey, Joe Wilson – Ringling Brothers could start a new circus with this group of clowns.....

    July 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. ron

    Independents getting hood-winked into "something" republican....

    July 21, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Susan in NC

    What a "convenient" and "tidy" little group Ms. Bachmann has created - no responsibility nor accountability for Tea Party members, activities, groups, ideas, mission, forays, beliefs, events, behavior, ethics, etc., etc., but lots of power from their caucus - how very convenient!

    July 21, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Pkm

    Take away the gop ers and there is no tea party

    July 21, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. John in Cal

    Ya right. and I've got some bottom land and a bridge in NY I'd like to sell.

    July 21, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Dave

    This women is "goofier" then Palin and an equal with King of Iowa. What rock pile do they climb out of?

    July 21, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Terry

    Sarah's twin is at it again!! I doubt there is a coherent thought in either head.

    July 21, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |

    So you are just there to listen? Isn't that already in your job description?

    July 21, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |

    Amazing that she is already distancing herself from the Tea Party with her weak disclaimer.

    July 21, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Peter s

    Yes you are one of the defactor leaders

    July 21, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Perfect...she fits right in with the rest of the wackos that apologize to poor little BP for having to pay for their mess and pal around with lobbyists that swap convicted criminals for oil contracts with nations that hate America.

    July 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Wake Up

    and if you believe this, just wait for the next speech. LOL

    July 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Jeff

    Do I really need to point out that the crazy Tea Party just picked the craziest member of the House to be their mouthpiece?

    July 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. kd

    That's a list of some the wackiest people in Congress. No surprise there.

    July 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Debbie

    You notice most of them are southerners?
    That says it all !!!!!!

    July 21, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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