Activists at 'first ever' Tea Party town hall to put lawmakers on the hot seat
February 8th, 2011
11:26 AM ET
12 years ago

Activists at 'first ever' Tea Party town hall to put lawmakers on the hot seat

Washington (CNN) - It could turn into a love-fest or, at times, spark heated debates.

On Tuesday in a room at the National Press Club in Washington, a live audience of Tea Party activists will join a virtual audience of activists in cyberspace to question - and perhaps grill - five members of Congress.

The event is being billed as the "first ever" Tea Party town hall. It is sponsored by the Tea Party Express which is teaming up with for the event. It will feature activists in the audience and others joining via Twitter and Facebook.

Four lawmakers were listed on the press release, distributed last week, as attending the event: Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, along with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Iowa Rep. Steve King. All four Republicans are members of their chambers' version of a Tea Party caucus and they enjoy support from the movement, which could make for a largely friendly event.

But activists who worked hard to elect lawmakers say they expect them to honor Tea Party principles - or possibly face a backlash. Lower taxes, less government spending and constitutional fidelity among members of Congress are prime concerns to the movement.

Regarding the event, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer said that lawmakers should expect "tough questions."

Some of those questions could be directed at Sen. Orrin Hatch. The Utah Republican will also attend the town hall, though his name was not on the original announcement.

Kremer told CNN that Hatch "invited himself."

But a spokeswoman for Hatch explained it differently.

"Some wires got crossed here," Antonia Ferrier told CNN. "Sen. Hatch was invited to attend a couple of weeks ago. And no harm, no foul. He will be at the event this evening, looking forward to it."

Some Tea Party activists have threatened to try and oust Hatch as he pursues a seventh Senate term. Critics cite votes that, they believe, show Hatch as less than rock-solid conservative and his working with Democrats on various issues.

Ferrier explained that political challenges in the senator's state are not unusual.

"Utah...its system is such that it is built for challenges," Ferrier said. "Sen. Hatch has been challenged before. And he plans for every scenario."

She added: "Sen. Hatch has a solid conservative record. I think to those who may disagree with that - I think Sen. Hatch would certainly want to talk to them about what his record is, when he's done certain things that they may or may not disagree with. At the end of the day he has been a person who's fought throughout his entire career against more taxes, against greater spending."

Ahead of the event, the Tea Party Express Chairman had a broad message to all members of congress.

"There is no senator or congressman in this country who needs to think their seat is safe," Kremer said.

CNN, The Tea Party Express and other Tea Party groups are hosting a first-ever Tea Party presidential debate in Florida this September.

–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Filed under: Tea Party movement
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Reports are that they all stood around trying to shout over one another because they didn't realize that they didn't need to try to disrupt the entire Town Hall Meeting in order to prevent any sane discussion if the Town Hall Meeting was their own....there's no chance of any sane discussion taking place even if they all talk quietly.

    February 8, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Sgt Schultz

    Bill O'Reilly insults the President and tell him how many people "hate" him....Glenn Beck uses fear-mongering to sell gold for his advertiser...Limbaugh uses racist rants live on air and incites death threats against Chinese-American politician.

    I would embrace the potential of the Tea Party is it had a legit platform and following. However all I see are militant extremist Partisans in their ranks.

    February 8, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Joy_TX

    Tea Baggers! Biggest joke ever. Smaller government? Lower Taxes? What always amazes me is the biggest chunk of the federal budget is Defense. In every media article written, I've never heard of tea baggers 'cutting' anything in military spending. No disrespect to military personnel, but the greater the expanse of military spending means more Federal employees. In the past we used to be able to discriminate in areas of gender, sexual orientation, and age; and now that none of those are on the table, we'll see a Federal government that will be more overwhelmed with higher costs because no one will want to leave a good comfy federal job with great benefits. And no, I'm NOT talking about solders in combat.
    So go ahead, cut taxes and government, and you see what we get--China foots the bill!!!! Go USA (out on lease for the People's Republic of China!)

    February 8, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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