Rubio: Why do we need a Senate Tea Party Caucus?

posted at 4:17 pm on January 24, 2011 by Allahpundit

This shouldn’t be held against him, but it probably will be.

The caucus members are Rand, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who backed Rubio’s fledgling Senate campaign even as the Republican party backed former Gov. Charlie Crist. They will meet in a Senate office building with leading tea party activists including Campaign for Liberty president John Tate, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and Tea Party Express chairman Amy Kremer…

Kremer, who said the tea party movement is aimed at “sending conservatives to Washington, not Republicans,” acknowledged a “little bit of disappointment” that it appears Rubio “won’t be standing with Sen. DeMint, Lee and Paul.

“Ultimately what matters is his vote, but there is concern,” Kremer said. “All these new members should know that we are watching. If anybody thinks they can play this movement, that’s not going to happen. We’re watching what they say, what they do.”…

“It would be nice if he joined Rand Paul’s caucus, but as long as Marco continues to vote in the way we’d like to see him vote, that’s the most important thing,” said Steve Vernon, vice president of Tea Party Manatee on Florida’s west coast. “As long as his vote and his actions and his word continue to essentially mirror our principals, then we’re not really upset.”

Click the image below to watch Rubio explain his thinking to the Shark Tank. He’s been publicly skeptical of a Senate Tea Party Caucus since at least last July, and I myself have made some of the same points that he makes here: Is there any purpose to a TP Caucus beyond providing grassroots tea partiers with a symbolic beachhead on the Hill? And isn’t it odd, and maybe counterproductive, for a deliberately leaderless, anti-Beltway movement like the tea party to have congressmen suddenly coopting its brand? That said, if there’s interest among grassroots conservatives in a Senate caucus along these lines, why wouldn’t a popular young pol want to pander to them by joining?

The obvious answer: Unlike DeMint, Paul, and Lee, Rubio has national ambitions. And as an exceptionally savvy retail politician, he knows that he’s more likely to achieve those ambitions by voting the tea party way without wearing the tea party label. It was slightly more than a year ago that the NYT dubbed him the “first senator from the tea party,” and ever since then he’s been quietly inching away from it — a prescient move given all the negative attention to people like Angle and O’Donnell in November. No less a tea party authority than Dick Armey of FreedomWorks started nudging candidates like Rand Paul last summer to identify as Republicans rather than TPers because the tea-party label will draw extra attacks from the left without adding any extra benefits from the right. Case in point: Tom Coburn. Not a guy who waves the Gadsden Flag regularly, but a guy who’s nonetheless deeply respected on the right for his record. That’s what I think Rubio’s aiming for more or less — a Coburn-esque stature among conservatives for his record and an Obama-esque appeal to centrists via his youth, charisma, and relative soft-spoken-ness.


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Why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t it be both?

Imo, not only should there be, but there must be a way, a mechanism, for the grassroots TP power to be transformed.

To make a rough analogy, TP power is somewhat like electricity; it has to be focused for it’s proper and powerful application to be realized. In this case, that proper and powerful application is the kind of constitutional, conservative legislation and policy that we sent the pols to D.C. for.

The TP caucus can, will and should act as just such a transformer. If it doesn’t, can’t what the TP give, the TP take? Isn’t that the whole idea? Why such fear?

A caucus is nothing more than much needed team work; a way to brainstorm, delegate, and unify stong parts to make the sum of the parts even stronger. It’s “smart power” in the best sense of the word. I see no reason not to excercise TP power in the halls of Congress and throughout the grass roots of all 57 states. ;)

How can that happen if we put up a wall that the TP can’t cross out of fear that the left and msm will attack members of Congress who stand with us and proudly identify themselves as Tea Partiers? So what? The grassroots will still remain amorphous and the conservative congresspersons who the Left hates will be attacked anyway.

IOW, why would we hand the Left that kind of power? Have their viscious tactics really worked to the point where we avoid doing what will bring us victory to try to avoid the Left’s insanity, which will come no matter what? DOING THIS HANDS THEM THE VICTORY BEFORE THE FIGHT HAS BEGUN BECAUSE WE HAVE SURRENDERED TO THEM OUR BEST WEAPONS OUT OF FEAR OF WHAT THEY WILL SAY IF WE USE THEM. THEY WILL SMASH US CONSTANTLY NO MATTER WHAT. FORGET THEM. FORGET THEM. FORGET THEM. AND FORGE AHEAD WITHOUT GIVING THEIR CRAP A SECOND THOUGHT.

We could use a lot more of the “bring it” backbone of a certain snowbilly we all know and admire.

Planning strategy, let alone victory, based on fear and avoidance of enemy tactics which shred any conservative, anytime, for any reason, true or false, or based on fearful speculation of some kind of unprovable corruption happening in the TP if they step up to the plate in the halls of Congress makes no sense to me. In fact it guarantees failure.

tigerlily on January 24, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Not having read the rest of the thread, I’d have to answer: “Because the Republican leadership has shown that they understand what’s going on.”

rmgraha on January 24, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Tea Party Caucus is not necessary if the Tea Party people really want to remain independent or do they want to make DeMint head of the Tea Party?

Rubio is making a smart move — Johnson from WI has done the same thing — they both see no need for a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate and have said there should only be one caucus which is the Republican caucus.

Rubio was initially supported by the grassroots all over Florida and really got a life when Crist called the County Chairs to ask who he should pick to fill the Senate seat. LeMieux came up last on their recommendations and that is who he chose. From that day forward Rubio started picking up support in the Counties.

Remember some people in the Tea Party movement wanting to throw Rubio under the bus when they learned of his close ties to Jeb Bush. Obviously they knew nothing about FL politics or they would have known the first people raising money were Jeb’s sons and that Rubio had always looked to Jeb for advice.

Rubio was Speaker of the Florida House and not some unknown Tea Party person. He was already part of the Republican establishment in Florida — he just happened to fall on the Jeb/Gallagher side of the GOP not the Crist side.

PhiKapMom on January 25, 2011 at 12:25 AM

a prescient move given all the negative attention to people like Angle and O’Donnell in November

So just surrender to the msm narrative like good republicans are supposed to do. Don’t stand up against lies and slander, just bend over and take it. Just behave the way the msm and demofasists want figurehead opposition to behave. Just continue to allow the left to control what the country believes.

Stated just like a good new york liberal, allah.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 8:24 AM

they both see no need for a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate and have said there should only be one caucus which is the Republican caucus.

Except there are numerous caucuses representing all kinds of positions. There isn’t just a republican caucus and a democrat caucus. But that’s ok, you just be a good obedient tool and they won’t raise your taxes and destroy your health care opportunities. They will treat you special because you behaved.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 8:27 AM

I am just amazed at the scarcity of real conservatives at this site that is illustrated by this post and the Bachmann response to barry post. I wonder if all the liberals who pretend to be conservatives here because they think they are so smart they can sway conservatives realize they are argueing with other liberals doing the same thing. Two posts about the importance of taking a stand in this country at the most critical point in our history and the majority of commenters are agreeing with the left and thier toadies in the msm. Behave, speak when told it is your turn, don’t take a stand. What a shame.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 8:31 AM

Rubio: Why do we need a Senate Tea Party Caucus?

To apply peer pressure to ensure actions reflect the words.

dominigan on January 25, 2011 at 9:07 AM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 8:31 AM

My problem with this has nothing to do with Rubio or any other member. I am afraid the Tea Party will become corrupted. I want Congress to act as if they are part of the real world that all of us live in. If the Tea Party becomes part of Washington, it will conform to the way Washington works, which is not at all.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 9:48 AM

“Is there any purpose to a TP Caucus beyond providing grassroots tea partiers with a symbolic beachhead on the Hill?”

Yes there is because the GOP has failed voters in the past and this will be a check and balance against the RINO’s.

JeffinSac on January 25, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Cindy, a congressional caucus is a group that recognizes the importance of the issue and gives voice to citizens for whom that issue is important. There is everything from the Congressional Black Caucus(racist in it’s very concept) to the potato caucus. The democrats certainly and openly want the Tea Party to go away and although they would deny it, the republicans do also. The msm no question.

I want Congress to act as if they are part of the real world

A forum in the congress to keep pressure on those who claim to be conservatives during thier campaigns but backslide once in office is a starting point. The Tea Party caucus is a barrier against republican shenanigans. Rubio has given notice that we need to keep our eyes on him. If this is a stategic political move with running for president in mind, it’s my opinion that this in the least will hurt him and may even be fatal to his ambitions. Look at how mccain is sounding this morning regarding the sotu. He is forecasting his future support of the democrats. mccain needs the Tea party in his face constantly or he will sell this country and conservatives down the drain in a second. He needs to see 70 or 80 congressman going into these meetings regularly.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 11:39 AM

I am afraid the Tea Party will become corrupted

The Tea Party is “We The People” not them-in-congress. “We The People” cannot become corupted by washington. Them-in-congress listen to “We The People” or they become ex-them-in-congress. A Tea Party caucus is the way to remind them constantly.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

I still like the visual of mass meetings of neighbors voicing their displeasure. It gets media even if it is call us racists. Sorry but regardless of which caucus, I see D.C. as a place people go and lose their minds. I think this is an agree to disagree moment.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I still like the visual of mass meetings of neighbors voicing their displeasure

And how will that change by congressman acknowledging and giving voice to those neighbors by forming a caucus? Having a congressional caucus doesn’t aleve us of our civic responsibilities. Everyone of us probably already have at least a couple of caucuses that represent our interests and we aren’t even aware of them. To assume that a tea party caucus is the only voice of the tea party participants is to accept that the black congressional caucus speaks for all black Americans.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM

The driving initiative behind the Tea Party movement is that we cannot afford to be silent anymore. Why turn down/ignore avenues of communication that are available to us? I’m disturbed that Rubio seems to dsmissing the movement that got him elected. I’m disturbed that people are bothered that one of the leading voices that championed and was championed by the Tea Party movement wants to comment online on the sotu and she is criticized. I’m disturbed that not only that my representative isn’t doing the same thing but that every congressman who claims to be conservative isn’t doing the same thing. I’ disturbed that here on what claims to be a conservative website the majority of commenters want conservatives to shut up and speak when spoken to.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

I’m disturbed that Rubio seems to be dismissing the movement that got him elected.

Don’t anyone forget that this was the exact same thing that scott brown did as soon as he got into office. If this is just political strategy and Rubio votes conservative down the line it may just hurt him temporarily. The flip side is that in a year or two we have to listen to Rubio explaining how he has to be “pragmatic” to get anything accomplished in congress. How many times have we heard that from republicans?

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:26 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

The Tea Party becoming part of Washington is something I have been against consistently. I have no problem with Rep. Bachmann speaking on it’s behalf. I think Rubio has kept the Tea Party at arms length for quite some time and I am not happy about it, he’s not as bad as Sen. Brown but it’s early yet. I don’t want anyone to shut up but I am not convinced that caucuses are productive mouthpieces for anyone.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 12:28 PM

The Tea Party becoming part of Washington

Cindy, the Tea Party caucus has nothing to do with the movement aside from acknowledging, honoring, giving voice to the movements ideals and acting/voting on those ideals. They will have no control of the movement, joining the caucus is akin to taking an oath supporting the values and principles the Tea Party espouses. A Tea Party caucus will have no control over the Tea Party movement, rather, a congressman joining the caucus will have to put up or shut up. It will be a constant reminder of what they were elected to do. The Tea Party caucus is not being formed to have an effect on the movement but to effect the behavior of congressman who were elected by the movement and who espoused the same principles when running for office. Unfortunately as of this morning Rubio does not seem to want to take that oath or have that reminder.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM

but I am not convinced that caucuses are productive mouthpieces for anyone.

And conservatism has so many productive mouthpieces that we can ignore any opportunities?

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

but I am not convinced that caucuses are productive mouthpieces for anyone.

Monitor the msm through the weekend and let me know how many times different congressional caucuses are mentioned, how many of those are conservative caucuses and how many of those conservative caucuses are mentioned in positive terms. My bet is 1)lots, 2)the Tea Party caucus only and 3)never. The left uses caucuses to give credibility to any of thier protected groups and to give themselves another weapon. Why should we cede the field?

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:45 PM

The Tea Party is about being heard. Why should we shut up now that we have momentum?

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

At this point I’m not even sure who the “conservatives” are. No one want to work on entitlements or do much more than window dress. I wrote to both Rubio and Mica to tell them that I would be willing to put off applying for Social Security for a year or two and take a small percentage less. I assume that most people would be willing to do the same for a permanent fix but the actions of those in D.C. makes me think that I am in a distinct minority.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 12:49 PM

At this point I’m not even sure who the “conservatives” are. No one want to work on entitlements or do much more than window dress

Then why not have a caucus where they proclaim thier values vi a vis the Tea Party or explain at townhall meetings why they disagree or are not willing to take a stand.

I wrote to both Rubio and Mica

Neither is a Tea Party caucus member.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:02 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:02 PM

True they are not part of the Tea Party Caucus but they are my representatives. I’m not convinced that any caucus does anything. What if Sen. Rubio did join the Tea Party Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus? Regardless I will hold these people to account for their own votes and react accordingly.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM

It’s about communication, Cindy. Concervatives cannot afford to default any outlet to the left. We outnumber them, both in stated/aware conservatives but also, more importantly, among so called moderates who don’t pay attention until 2 weeks before an election. Those are the people who cost conservatism elections. They have the same values ans principles but fall for the propaganda. Therefore we cannot pass up any opportunity to educate them by getting the message out there as often as possible. If I were the speaker of the house I would tell all my people that I expected them to be on the radio, on tv or giving print interviews every week. Find an outlet to talk to. I would tell them that I expected them to be giving speaches every week. If they can’t find a national forum make sure they get thier butts back to thier districts and go to meetings. I would demand a weekly report from each one letting me know thier actions. The democrats are in constant campaign mode with thier lies and if the repubilcans want to be the party of conservatism they better start being in campaign mode constantly with the truth. There is no more campaign cycles, this is the end fight.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:32 PM

What if Sen. Rubio did join the Tea Party Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus?

That would not bother me a bit as long as he danced wit da one that brought him. Why not be a part of the hispanic caucus and let the others know that most hispanics didn’t escape communism or despotic and corrupt regimes to get the same here. That is what Col. West is planning on doing in the black congressional caucus.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Cindy you need to let me know where your son is playing next so we can meet up and have a beer.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:36 PM

My feelings are still that most of Washington dislikes the Tea Party, both sides of aisle. Since it is a relatively new phenomenon I am more afraid of it being co-opted into D.C., than it changing D.C.. It’s not that I don’t understand what you are saying and I know that so few members gives the appearance of not being taken seriously, that’s not an accident. Everything they do there is a game of win or lose with little or no thought to the consequences of the People. And then you have the problem of who decides what it is that the Tea Party really wants. I just heard Gov. Scott say on the news that the Jacksonville port needs to be ten feet deeper and it will take Federal funds. No, it takes less money coming from taxpayers so that each state can spend where it needs without going hat in hand to D.C.. The country is just in a stupid place and seriously big changes need to be made and I don’t see that happening. Ever.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Are you sure you are up for that? The music not the beer. I love metal and it annoys me. Guilty Conscience will be playing at The Sinclair Jacksonville on 1/28/11. The Husband & I will be the old people with video camera stuck in our faces and ear plugs.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Guilty Conscience will be playing at The Sinclair Jacksonville on 1/28/11

That’s Friday. I’ll do my best. My son, Future Guitar God, isn’t much into metal but he likes checking out live music of any kind. The incarnation of his bands have played at Freebird, Jackrabbits and Culhanes Pub. I’ll do my best to see you there.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Guilty Conscience will be playing at The Sinclair Jacksonville on 1/28/11

That’s the place right across from the Florida Theater! I always thought that place would be great for a bar and then when I was at Florida Theater New Years Eve for Derek Trucks I saw they opened one. Very cool.

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 2:19 PM

peacenprosperity on January 25, 2011 at 2:19 PM

No, it’s by the bus station, 521 W. Forsyth St. Mine has played at Jack Rabbits with this group and Freebirds with a couple of others. He and I are both getting too old for this, time to jump into the real world.

Cindy Munford on January 25, 2011 at 4:14 PM

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