First on CNN: Tea party plans bus tour to help Romney, Republicans
July 18th, 2012
03:37 PM ET
8 years ago

First on CNN: Tea party plans bus tour to help Romney, Republicans

Washington (CNN) – The nation's largest tea party political action committee is planning a major push this September for Mitt Romney and other Republicans with what will be their "longest" cross country bus tour since the movement began in 2009, the group said Wednesday.

The Tea Party Express will mount its eighth nationwide tour – titled "Winning for America" - in the last two weeks of September and the first week of October, according to chief strategist Sal Russo.

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The circuit will begin in Florida and hit several other battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. Other stops are planned for Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, Missouri, and Georgia.

"It's going to be our longest tour," Russo said. "We're covering so much ground…it looks like a W across the country."

The group intends to invite presumptive GOP presidential nominee Romney to participate in the tour. Russo stressed that the invitation has not yet been made, though he hopes Romney will accept.

The intention to invite Romney is a sign that tea party activists are increasingly warming to the former Massachusetts governor's candidacy. Many tea partiers have long viewed Romney as not sufficiently conservative – a claim Romney's supporters have long beat back. Yet most activists openly back Romney, whether willingly or begrudgingly, because of fierce opposition to President Obama.

The tour will be the first test of tea party power ahead of a presidential election. In 2010, the movement saw mixed success: helping to flip the House into Republican hands but losing coveted Senate races in Alaska, Delaware and Nevada. Since then, tea party activists have also wrecked political aspirations of other establishment Republicans in other parts of the country.

While stressing that tour details are still being worked out, Russo discussed its logistics, goals and aim.

As in past Express bus tours, the upcoming one will include two to three buses carrying staffers and supporters from rally to rally. Russo stressed that tour stops have been planned for maximum political effect: to not only help Romney but also Republican candidates for the Senate and House.

For example, the Express' Pennsylvania stops are planned to help put that state's 20 electoral votes in Romney's column. But it will also aim to help elect Republican candidates to the House as well as GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith in his race against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. The Express has endorsed Smith. But their attempts appear to be futile: Casey has led Smith by double-digits in recent polls.

While praising Smith, Russo added: "I think [Pennsylvania is] going to be a big state for Romney. I think they're going to put a lot of resources in there."

In North Carolina, the Express will rally supporters for Romney as well as to defeat Democratic Reps. Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre.

The Express' stops in other states are also designed to help Romney as well as other GOP candidates. The highlight in Virginia will be the Senate race between former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and former Sen. George Allen; in Florida it will be the race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and GOP Rep. Connie Mack, who's expected to win his party's senate nomination in the state.

"We can play a bigger role in U.S. Senate races than we can in presidential races," Russo said. "So we're trying to be in states which are going to be competitive in the Senate as well as in the presidential race. And when we can, we try to go in the areas of the state where there are competitive House races."

Though many tea party activists were openly hostile to Romney's bid during the GOP primaries, there were also signs of a thaw. For example, last year on Labor Day in New Hampshire, Romney headlined his first major tea party rally.

But getting the tea party's stamp of approval carries risks. The movement remains popular with many conservatives and has a proven track record in energizing them. Yet many independents are turned off by the tea party, potentially turning some of them away from Romney.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Express also announced its supporters' choice for Romney's running mate.

In a survey of over 8,000 supporters, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was the favorite, with 66% of the vote.

"It is not a big surprise that Marco Rubio is the favorite candidate of the tea party for the vice-presidential nod," Express Chairman Amy Kremer said in a statement. "He ran as a strong fiscal conservative, and he has delivered with his record in the U.S. Senate for the last two years. The only surprise is that he led the other excellent candidates by such a wide margin."

Those other candidates are: House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who garnered 49.9% of the tea party VP vote, Florida Rep. Allen West, with 46.8%, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, with 44%, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, with 41%, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann with 40.9%.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty – three men believed to be leading vice presidential contenders – ranked low in the Tea Party Express results.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Tea Party • Tea Party Express
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. B

    I'll bet the Tea Party Express will detour around Freeport Illinois where Romney's brainchild Bain Capital is outsourcing roughly 170 jobs at Sensata Technologies to China by the end of this year.

    July 18, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. livingston

    Okay, now that is just funny! They really think that they are relevant! Sure, come to Pennsylvania! I sure we can make you feel real welcome! Just roll down the windows and we will serve you nice eggs and tomatoes! On second thought, maybe you should just keep driving. Your not wanted here.

    July 18, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. v_mag

    "Um, do they know that Romney can't drink stuff with caffeine in it?"

    Well, for someone who's anti-caffeine (which I consider the same as anti-American), he sure drinks a lot of Koch!

    July 18, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |

    The Tea party rides again Democrats!! Now what was all that talk about them being extinct? Wishful thinking maybe? We are looking forward to ridding the House, Senate and Whitehouse of as many leftist Democrats as we can. 2012 will spell the end of the leftist Democrat Party bought and paid for by the unions and George Soros.

    July 18, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |

    Get the eggs out ,the teaparty bafoons on the bus will be the goof BACHMANN ,Carl rove and Dick armey and the other bafoon cantor and rover nitwitquest,I can't wait till the Gop bafoon party train wreck in Nov with romney the clown driving the Gop down the toilet ,where's Sara ????romney the clown could be her vp ,if he shows his tax returns ????????

    July 18, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine


    A group of Americans practicing their 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speach and assembly to back a candidate for President. Just watch all the viscious and mean spirited remarks you'll read here and from the left pundits. Your modern Democrat party will show the hate filled and non-inclusive organization it has become.
    Why yes, of course...and the GOP is just filled with the love of Our Lord and Savior, and shows it everyday. Look at all the work their members of the House have done: over 30 votes to repeal the ACA, and not one so-called jobs bill that has a prayer of reaching the Presiden't desk. Why is that? Because the Tea Party is about nothing more than placing greed front and center in American life, masquerading as individualism. If these idiots want to drive around in a bus in a fruitless attempt to convince Independents that they are not the playtoy of the uber rich, fine. The people of this country loathe them because they have been nothing more than lapdogs for the Kochs and their ilk.

    July 18, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. SafeJourney

    Tea party does not have the clout they had before the 2010 elections. Americans have seen what the teapublicans have done and are doing in Congresss. Americans will not forget the teapublicans saying "let America default on its debts" You cant get anymore un-American than that. Also that statement is part of the reason Americas credit rating was downgraded as stated by S&P themselves.
    Also, VOTE these teapublicans out of office before they completely destroy this great country

    July 18, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |

    The kiss of death for romney the clown ,get on the bus and get out of town !!!!

    July 18, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. grannie22

    Illinois will welcome the tea-party!!!!!!!!!!

    July 18, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Russ

    The problem is most Tea Baggers aren't smart enough to realize they are cutting their own throats by supporting Romney. If they get him in the White House and see how his policies affect them they will be yelling for him to provide his birth certificate amd crying in their cardboard boxes that have now become their homes.

    July 18, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Jesus Christ Superstar

    The Tea Party likes Marco Rubio because both are dumb

    July 18, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    With all the tea bagger crap going on, I hope their Canadian made bus has a bathroom.

    July 18, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    too bad the price of tomatoes and eggs have gone up because I would really put them to good use if that bus came into my town. Then again I guess ROTTEN eggs and tomatoes can be gotten at a decent price.

    July 18, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Tea baggers are responsible for Canada now having a per capita income greater than the US. The baggers, birthers, billionaires and bigots in the GOP will really celebrate when Mexico also passes the US.

    July 18, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Ugly people from Fox foreign owned media dressing up as Americans.

    July 18, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |

    Not wanted in fort myers fl. Keep driving bafoons !!!!

    July 18, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Gadsden Gurl

    JUST A REMINDER: This TPE 'bus' is NOT a product of the REAL teaparty that started in 2007 and who would NEVER support Mitt Romney. This is a group who stole our movement's name crafted by GOP Consultant SAL RUSSO.

    Please ignore it, it is NOT the tea party position.

    July 18, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine


    The Tea party rides again Democrats!! Now what was all that talk about them being extinct? Wishful thinking maybe? We are looking forward to ridding the House, Senate and Whitehouse of as many leftist Democrats as we can. 2012 will spell the end of the leftist Democrat Party bought and paid for by the unions and George Soros.
    As opposed to all the tools bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers, American Crossroads, the NRA, Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, etc? Please, your side has the lion's share of the political fringe in this country, and they have no idea as to the tidal wave that will sweep their minions out. Enjoy your moment, junior.

    July 18, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. indie52

    You would think the average age of the Tea Party would be 3 years old. Its been almost 6 years since Bush announced his policies tanked the economy and doubled the National debt . Where were these people then.

    July 18, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. v_mag

    "We're covering so much ground…it looks like a W across the country."

    Keep that thought in mind, because if Mittler wins, it'll be W all over again. Romney = Bush = disaster.

    July 18, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Gadsden Gurl

    RUSSO should be sued. He has no right to even use our movement's NAME.

    The movement does NOT support Mitt Romney and any attempt to come to our state with Romney on it will be met with PROTEST.

    July 18, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Steve

    Great the tea party is going on a bus tour. Exactly where are these idiots going to be and where? I dont want to be anywhere near that road as those rednecks come flying though swerving all over the place after they just got done chugging a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I'm going to laugh when the news story comes out when they ride into the ditch

    July 18, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Namejkane – I agree, we do not need any more bagger crap in Lee County.

    July 18, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Cool

    Teabegger would buy anything GOP sells. Its a big movement created by Republicans only. LOSSSSEEEERRRSS

    July 18, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Gadsden Gurl – I was under the impression that Fox foreign owned media and the Kochs gave the TPE their marching orders, and Mitt was it.

    July 18, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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