Former McCain Adviser: Tea Parties “Bad For Republicans”
Mark McKinnon (right), a former adviser to John McCain, warns about the impact of the tea parties. Some of the party elite seem enamored of the tea parties, like Senator Jim DeMint of SC, Congresman Mike Pence of IN and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of MN.
But top Republican strategists and many party observers also worry about the impact that the most extreme protesters might have on the party’s image, including those who carry swastika signs or obsess over the veracity of Obama’s Hawaiian birth.
Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other Republicans, said there is an “opportunity for Republicans” to tap into legitimate fears about an overreaching federal government. But he said that “right-wing nutballs are aligning themselves with these movements” and are dominating media coverage.
“It’s bad for Republicans because in the absence of any real leadership, the freaks fill the void and define the party,” McKinnon said.
Former Congressman Dick Armey of TX runs Freedomworks, which is instrumental in the corporate organizing behind these events.
One blogger who writes regularly for Freedomworks, Ross Kaminsky of Boulder, Colo., compared Obama’s Tuesday address to U.S. schoolchildren to the tactics of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and other murderous dictators. “Totalitarians of all stripes put great emphasis on brainwashing the young, and Obama is no exception,” he wrote on the group’s Web site under the name “rossputin.”
At the event on Thursday, activists shouted “Liar!” at the mention of Obama’s name, just hours after GOP leaders had condemned Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for a similar outburst during Obama’s speech to Congress the evening before.
One thing that has to be of concern to the GOP is that much of its base believes more in conservative commentators than in the party itself.
Indeed, many activists say in interviews that they look more to conservative commentators for leadership than they do elected politicians. Ryan Rhodes, a leader of the “tea party” movement in Iowa, noted that [Glenn] Beck and radio host Rush Limbaugh had come to the cause years ago. Rhodes said he had little enthusiasm for George W. Bush or for McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential candidate.Click here for reuse options!
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