On win streak, establishment GOP takes tougher stance towards tea party

Emboldened by their success, establishment Republicans are using tough language about the party’s more conservative groups. They are suggesting that the federal government shutdown last fall — led by hard-liners like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas — and this year’s primary results have staggered the organizations claiming the Tea Party mantle.

“This is a bunch of out-of-state political gunslingers who have crowned themselves as the leaders of Tea Party Republicanism and are raising money in the name of a more conservative party and spending it all attacking Republicans,” former Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi said in an interview at the meeting here.

“If in 2016 we don’t have these people raising millions of Republican dollars and using it to attack Republicans, then we’ll be stronger against the Democrats for president and for keeping the House and for hopefully keeping the Senate,” said Mr. Barbour, who was one of the few speakers at the meeting to urge party unity…

“If the threats are toothless, then the scorecards are meaningless,” said Mr. Barbour, referring to the closely watched voter guides issued by many conservative groups.