[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/28/art.tkaine0728.gi.jpg caption="DNC chairman Tim Kaine launched a new initiative Wednesday that targets the GOP as the midterms approach."]
Washington (CNN) – The National Republican Congressional Committee all but accused the Democratic National Committee of "political quackery" Wednesday, as the DNC rolled out a new campaign that seeks to tie the Republican Party to the Tea Party movement in advance of the upcoming midterm elections.
At a press conference launching the initiative, the DNC hammered home its message that the GOP and the Tea Party movement are becoming indistinguishable from one another.
Saying the conservative grassroots movement is "now the most potent force in Republican politics" and pointing out Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, and Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, are both members of the new House Tea Party Caucus, DNC chairman Tim Kaine said "the Republican Party agenda has become the Tea Party agenda and vice versa."
Kaine's sentiments were echoed by DNC vice-chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
"[E]ssentially you don't know where the Republican Party ends and the Tea Party begins and vice versa," the Florida lawmaker said. "And they [Republicans] have to own that."
Contacted by CNN, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is headed by Rep. Sessions, fired back at Kaine and Wasserman Schultz.
"With no other cards left to play, Democrats are back to attacking voters," NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain said in a written statement, "Not only has this tired line of attack already been proven to be ineffective, it is offensive to voters who are offended by the fiscal recklessness of Washington politicians, and it suggests that Democratic leaders like Tim Kaine and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have been reduced to political quackery."
And a spokesperson for Rep. Pence said national Democrats are showing how out of touch they are with the concerns of everyday Americans.
"Democrat leaders attacking everyday Americans who are concerned about out-of-control spending in Washington shows how out of touch they are," Pence Deputy Press Secretary Courtney Kolb said in a written statement to CNN. "House Republicans are taking a stand to rein in wasteful spending, to fight tax increases, and to create jobs, and will campaign to earn the support of Americans concerned about the future of our country."
As she sought to link Republicans and the Tea Party movement, Wasserman Schultz also took a shot at some recent GOP efforts to engage the public in helping develop a new Republican agenda.
"Now they'll pay lip service to listening to the American people, to developing a broad based agenda to appeal to Americans from all walks of life," the DNC vice chair said. "But whether it is the Eric Cantor abandoned rebranding effort that was dubbed 'The National Council for a New America' or whatever it was called, or his widely ridiculed YouCut, or John Boehner's 'America Speaks Out' initiative, it's clearly all a sham. It's all a phony effort to pretend to be listening to the American people while they're actually developing an agenda with the same corporate and special interest lobbyists that helped grind our economy to a halt in the first place and who have fought everything from health reform to Wall Street reform to campaign finance reform."
Responding to Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's point person for developing the new agenda with help from AmericaSpeakingOut.com, slammed national Democrats for attacking the idea of listening to the public.
"Democrats continue to amaze me with how embarrassingly out of touch they have become," McCarthy said in a written statement to CNN. "Now they are attacking the idea of listening to the American people. That probably won't get them very far when we roll out a positive agenda constructed with unprecedented transparency and rooted in a dialogue carried out at literally hundreds of town halls and in the thousands of ideas posted on AmericaSpeakingOut.com. We're standing with the American people, while Democrats seem to have landed themselves on an island."
And, Brad Dayspring, spokesman for Rep. Cantor, also slammed Wasserman Schultz.
"The Congresswoman fits perfectly into the mold of what Democrats tend look for in their leaders: unwilling to listen to people, unwilling to cut a single penny from the federal budget and far too willing to tax the hell out of small business people," Dayspring said in a written statement to CNN.
The roll out of the Democratic initiative attempting to link the GOP and the Tea Party movement came on the same day that the House GOP announced plans to spend Congress' upcoming recess taking their listening initiative to a more personal level.
A House GOP Leadership aide told CNN that the GOP's America Speaking Out initiative will be at the heart of House Republicans' activities during the recess. "After two months of asking Americans for their priorities, engaging them online, holding scores of town halls, and carrying on a two-way conversation of ideas, House Republicans will be discussing a series of specific solutions with the American people this summer. During August and September, House Republicans will be visible and active, talking about these solutions," the Republican leadership aide said.
–CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.