Hmmm: Michael Steele meeting Tuesday with 50 tea party leaders

Republican National Committee Michael Steele’s plans on meeting Tuesday with about 50 tea party leaders. The California GOP chairman recently trained tea partiers on political organizing and is planning a party-sponsored rally. The South Carolina GOP has a resource-sharing agreement with tea party groups. The North Dakota party chairman hosted a tea party-GOP rally Friday and is urging fellow state chairs to do the same.

But for tea partiers, who from the early days of their movement wanted to be heard and taken seriously, it’s a little bit of careful what you wish for…

“The Republican Party has always been a grass-roots party, and I respect the healthy debate that is going on in the states,” said Steele, who was denied a speaking slot at an April tea party protest (though he said he hadn’t requested one) but has heaped praise on the movement and sought to affiliate the RNC with it…

Steele’s planned Tuesday meeting with tea party leaders from at least a dozen states, a meeting organized by Karin Hoffman, founder of a South Florida tea party group called DC Works For Us, represents something of a breakthrough in the GOP’s courting of the tea party. Though Steele and other GOP leaders have occasionally scored meetings with individual leaders of national groups involved in the tea party movement, Tuesday will mark the first large-scale get-together between the national party and grass-roots activists from a wide array of regional tea party groups.