Tea party activists band together to talk 2012 plans, frustrations
June 27th, 2011
04:57 PM ET
11 years ago

Tea party activists band together to talk 2012 plans, frustrations

Washington (CNN) – On Monday, conservative activists banded together in Washington to talk about their early 2012 electoral plans – as well as some of their early frustrations.

Some 40 grassroots leaders from across the country spoke with reporters at the headquarters for FreedomWorks, a major conservative backer of the tea party movement. This comes after a weekend "boot-camp" to train many of them on policy, social media, and campaigning - among other issues – in preparation for the 2012 presidential and congressional races.

Activists have long been bent on defeating Democrats, particularly President Obama. And yet they are also determined to oust Republicans they deem not conservative enough.

Case in point: they have launched a concerted campaign against Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's re-election, a six-term Republican who, they believe, does not live up to the tea party's brand of conservatism.

Activists also aired frustrations about the electoral landscape.

Among them: a few well-known tea party figures lamented what they see as a weak GOP presidential field.

David Kirkham, a trailblazer for the tea party in Utah, said there is no current candidate who actively defends the movement's ideals.

"It's a very weak field," Kirkham said, a sentiment echoed by FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe and backed up by several recent polls among Republican voters.

Kirkham continued: "Someone else needs to jump into the race right now, someone who is dedicated to freedom and prosperity. There is no current candidate out there who is really impressive."

That feeling was not necessarily mutual among all the assembled activists. During an unofficial, informal straw poll held during the press conference, there was strong support for Republicans such as Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. All three received substantial votes and shouts from the crowd.

Current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a frontrunner in some polls, received virtually no support from the activists.

Another frustration expressed by the activists: improving voter registration.

Ann Sullivan, from North Carolina, called voter registration challenges "a travesty."

"We have soldiers willing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet some people cannot take the time to vote and register to vote," Sullivan said. "There's no excuse for not voting. And yet we're a growing party with more people banding together behind our ideas, but we need voters to actually register and show their support at the polls."

–CNN Political Producer Shannon Travis contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Tea Party
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. rhumba

    Who takes these photos? Do they try to make it look like there's a big crowd by aiming at the sky? When will there be an honest photographer who will stand on a step ladder and photograph the dozens that actually show up for these TP events?

    June 27, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. steven harnack

    As wing-nutty as the current crop of Republicans are they still aren't wing-nutty enough for this bunch? Maybe they should start looking in mental institutions?

    June 27, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. LouAz

    40 of them ! WOW ! That must really be something. How many wagons did it take to haul all these Flat Earthers ?

    June 27, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Palin Power

    This is a clear sign that the Tea Party will take over our govt and install Sarah Palin as our next and greatest President of all times. This world sorely and badly needs her to lead us out of this mess. Only she has the power from God Herself to completely fix this situation.

    June 27, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. Bluegillmaster

    Ron Paul was right in 2008 – He is right in 2010 – and will continue to be right in 2012.

    Rick Perry makes me sick – He worked as Al Gores campaign manager. This is just further confirmation that we have a 2 party dictatorship.

    June 27, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. pflatman

    Such diversity! Insightful, thoughtful, clear-thinking, progressive, optimistic. I love the fleabaggers!

    June 27, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
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