Tea party group to Bachmann: Quit the presidential race
October 27th, 2011
05:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Tea party group to Bachmann: Quit the presidential race

(CNN) - A tea party group has a surprising and harsh urging for long-time tea party favorite Michele Bachmann: Quit the presidential race.

"It's time for Michele Bachmann to go," reads the first line of a statement from American Majority President Ned Ryun. His group operates in seven states, trains thousands of tea party supporters and is "liked" by over 371,000 people on Facebook.

"Bachmann, the leader of the so-called tea party caucus in the House and the most vocal about her affiliation with the Tea Party than any other Presidential candidate, has consistently presented herself as a champion of the movement and its values," Ryun's statement continued.

"Bachmann has ridden her tea party credentials from obscurity to a national platform like no other."

Bachmann campaign manager Keith Nahigian responded in a statement.

"The strength of the Tea Party is all individual's opinions are valued but the no single leader speaks for it. Mr. Ryun, who supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is entitled to his own opinion. And that's exactly what he is expressing. Michele Bachmann enjoys strong support from Americans across party lines and that certainly includes the Tea Party. She will continue to be a strong advocate for the values and principles reflected by the Tea Party as works toward a victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses as she seeks to win the Republican nomination."

Ryun denies he supports Perry, telling CNN: "I liked his plan that he came out with earlier in the week. And I said as much in a blog post. But I have not, and neither has American Majority endorsed anybody."

American Majority's rebuke of Bachmann marks the first time a well-known tea party group has turned on one of its own in the presidential race – a candidate who so frequently pushes tea party values it's become a key underpinning of her White House bid.

The group explained its reasons why it's grown incensed with Bachmann.

"I think it's pretty obvious that Michele Bachmann is about Michele Bachmann," American Majority Executive Director Matt Robbins said.

"Anyone who knows the congresswoman, and knows her record, we appreciate a national figure standing up for the tea party types," Robbins added.

Robbins said the statement is not about the group favoring one candidate over Bachmann.

"We are equal opportunity hecklers." Robbins said. "We point out the foibles and the flaws in each one of the candidates. And we don't care which one of the personalities wins, as long as they're conservative."

"Let's face it: she's a back-bencher and has been a back bencher congressperson for years," Robbins added. "This is not a serious presidential campaign."

Bachmann won the first major contest of the presidential cycle, August's Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. The Minnesota congresswoman has also won some good reviews for her performances in presidential debates. And, though her polling fortunes have recently tumbled, many campaign watchers believe Bachman's candidacy cannot be dismissed.

In explaining his claim that Bachmann isn't running a serious campaign, Robbins dismissed Bachmann's straw poll win.

"They're not accurate reads," Robbins said. "That's not the structure, that's not the money, that's not the seriousness, that's not the gravitas, you know, any of the real big league things that one needs in order to mount a truly credible, nationwide presidential campaign."

The executive director also cited Bachmann's recent staffing and fundraising misfortunes.

The group explains another reason it believes Bachmann should quit the GOP presidential race.

"Bachmann's resulting plunge in the polls is troubling for the tea party, not because 'one of their own' is losing her footing, but because the longer Bachmann stays in the race, the more likely we will see her shift to the right," Ryun wrote in the statement. "This rightward shift will come as the campaign works to hold on to its more conservative base of support in advance of the release of Bachmann's new book next month."

Ryun continued: "There is nothing wrong with addressing your base during a campaign. However, I suspect that we will hear more from her about social issues and religion to accomplish that goal. As an evangelical who is deeply pro-life, I can say that while many inside the tea party movement are socially conservative, social issues are not what drive the Tea Party."

Since the movement's founding in 2009, activists and supporters have tried to squarely focus on constitutional adherence, fiscal responsibility and lower taxes. Activists typically steer clear of social issues like abortion and gay marriage. While Bachmann frequently pushes the tea party's message on fiscal issues, she's recently stressed her opposition to abortion rights and her defense of traditional marriage.

"In Bachmann's case, it is clear that the campaign has become less about reform and more about her personal effort to stay relevant and sell books; a harsh commentary, but true," Ryun wrote. "While other campaigns are diving into the substance, the supposed tea party candidate Bachmann is sticking to thin talking points and hanging on for dear life."

When contacted about the statement, some other tea party groups remain largely positive about the Bachmann candidacy.

Jenny Beth Martin is co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest tea party group.

"I haven't heard of any local tea party groups calling for Michele Bachmann to bow out," Martin said. "Michele Bachmann has fought and championed the tea party core values - the fiscal responsibility, the constitutional and limited government and free markets on Capitol Hill – oftentimes when very few others were willing to take up the mantle. And tea party supporters appreciate her for championing their cause repeatedly and consistently."

As for criticism of Bachmann's focus on social issues, Martin said, "When you're running for president, you're appealing to more than just tea party people. And you have to answer questions on other issues as well. So I'm not surprised when any of the candidates are talking about the other issues because those are things that come up in presidential campaigns."

Levi Russell, director of public affairs for Americans for Prosperity, said, "The conservative movement across the country has not made up its mind about any one particular candidate.

"I think it's too early to call for anybody to drop out," Russell added.

Filed under: 2012 • Michele Bachmann • Tea Party
soundoff (238 Responses)

    He trains the teabaggers to make those misspelled racist signs and spread "grassroots anger". The wingnut/teabagger trainwreck implosion rolls on full speed ahead.

    October 28, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. Jack

    This is what happens when you align yourself with a small, extremist, ideologically intransigent group. They decide, not you.

    October 28, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Lypton

    The Tea Baggers are no different than the other parties. They brain wash their followers, I mean train their followers and when someone in their own party doesn't measure up they take them out back and well ask Dick Cheney!

    October 28, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Bones

    She enjoys strong support from Americans across party lines? Is that a joke? She's barely ahead of Santorum, and he's certifiably nuts! Her entire NH office just left her and she continues to be abused in the media for saying absolute nonsense.

    October 28, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Gloria

    This is the only thing the Tea Party has said that I agree with...I sure wish they'd just quit too!!

    October 28, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Jason

    She's down to selling books and memoirs. That's whats keeping this snake around-greed.

    October 28, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. closetiguana

    With Perry and Bachman at the helm this election will be the death of the Tea Party.

    October 28, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. Bravo

    She doesn't care what the Tea Party says,...God told her to run and that is the only vote that matters.

    October 28, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Chris Masterson

    Michele Bachmann is incredible. She WILL change America. She WILL ensure your freedoms are not taken away, and she WILL restore the ones that have already been stolen. Wake up America!!!!

    October 28, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. vegas01

    This guy should be relieved of his post. He isn't representative of conservative (Tea Party) principles, if he thinks rhetoric should decide elections. Bachmann is not my first choice, but she should be allowed to offer herself as a choice to voters.

    October 28, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Leslie A Howard-Redweik

    Ned Ryun is the TEA Party. ROFLOL HAHAHAHAHA Is it April 1st? lol He's one guy with his own agenda obviously. That's all.

    October 28, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. brendan

    "And we don't care which one of the personalities wins..."

    Love the fact that this GOP group calls its own Presidential candidates "personalities." Confirms that they are all about flash over substance to begin with. None of these candidates represent the best and the brightest of the GOP.

    October 28, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. ladyjag

    Well now Cain is compared to Reagan, the most ignorant man we ever had for President, did not vote for him, who ever thought his ideas were great. He union busted which meant that he did not care of the people that worked a 40 hour week, lady's and gentlemen, if you work cain is not the man for your.

    October 28, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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