Tea Party Caravan Aims to Steamroller Stupak

Friday, 02 Apr 2010 01:10 PM

By David A. Patten

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Call it a date for high political tea -- the Tea Party Express caravan working its way across the United States has scheduled four Michigan stops targeting Rep. Bart Stupak's district. Stupak is the controversial Democrat whose flip-flop on the abortion issue gave President Obama the votes he needed to pass his historic healthcare-reform legislation.

Stupak's reversal was widely condemned by Michigan right-t0-life organizations as a betrayal, and now the tea party movement plans is aiming to introduce Stupak to its own version of political hell on wheels.

"It's the most rallies we've ever done in a single congressional district," Amy Kremer, grassroots director for Tea Party Express, tells Newsmax.

"He caved, and it's upset a lot of people in this country," Kremer says. "Especially when it has come to light that have been some kickbacks going to him and his district, and some of the other representatives that were in the 'Stupak 12.' That's something that's going to turn over the apple cart."

If Kremer and her fellow tea party activists have their way, Stupak's political apple cart is about to get hit by their bus. And their multiple rallies will occur during the congressional recess, when Stupak is back in his home district.

Stupak hasn't commented on the rallies and appears to be trying to keep a low profile during the spring break.

Other than issuing a statement once again insisting that President Obama's executive order, which experts say does not have the force of law, represents an "iron-clad commitment" to bar federal funding of abortions under the new healthcare regime, Stupak has not planned any events to discuss his change of heart over healthcare reform over the recess.

Not wanting Stupak to feel unappreciated, perhaps, Kremer says the Tea Party Express activists are inviting him to attend and meet with them at the rallies they are holding in his district on April 8 and 9.

"I have this feeling he probably wouldn't take us up on it," she tells Newsmax.

The Tea Party Express organization kicked off its cross-country tour last week in Senate Majority Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nev. The trip will culminate on April 15 at the massive Tax Day Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C.

Even before the House vote on healthcare reform, the tea party folks planned to give Stupak's district special attention. "We had planned that before, because we actually didn't think they would have already voted on this healthcare legislation," Kremer says. "And he caved, so we're still going to go to his district."

Late Thursday afternoon, the Tea Party Express added a fourth stop to their itinerary in Stupak's district: Alpena, Mich. That's in addition to the rallies already booked for Ironwood, Mich., on April 8; and at Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., both on April 9.

The entire itinerary and other information is available at the group's Web site address, TeaPartyExpress.org.

"I think we'll have a great reception in Michigan," Kremer tells Newsmax. "When we've done Michigan stops before, we've had very good crowds and fired-up people, obviously because of the things going on that they're upset about. You add Bart Stupak in the mix, and we'll have really engaged crowds."

At each stop along the tea party odyssey, the vehicles unload and activists take the stage to address the crowd. Each event begins with the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem. Entertainers dish up patriotic tunes, and there's the usual round of rousing speeches. Then it's back on the road again and on to the next destination.

So far, Kremer says, the Tea Party Express caravan has encountered big crowds at every stop. She reports voters' frustration is running high over the government's decision to refashion one-sixth of the nation's economy at a time when unemployment continues to hover nearly 10 percent. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Michigan's official unemployment rate currently stands at 14.1 percent.

The Tea Party Express won't find it easy playing David to Stupak's goliath, however. Unions play a significant role in Michigan politics, and Stupak's re-election bid is expected to receive strong financial support from national Democratic organizations delighted by his vote for healthcare reform. Having represented Michigan in Congress since 1993, Stupak has weathered plenty of political storms before.

Tea Party Express leaders already have laid plans to complicate Stupak's re-elections plans long after their bus taillights fade in the distance as they leave his district behind. Throughout their journey, they've used their Web site and a series to e-mail blasts to collect donations to underwrite radio and TV ads targeting Stupak.

They will begin broadcasting those ads in Stupak's First Congressional District just about the time they say goodbye to Michigan to continue their 45-city pilgrimage across country to the Nation's Capital.

"People are donating from across the country to vote him out," Kremer tells Newsmax. "It's kind of the same thing we did to help [Massachusetts GOP Sen.] Scott Brown.

Adds Kremer: "People donated from around the country so we could run $350,000 in ads to help Brown get elected. That's the same thing we're going to do against Stupak -- because the people of America feel like he betrayed them."

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