Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and other top Republican officials are meeting with about 50 leaders of various tea party groups today.
The participants will discuss ideology and campaign tactics, The Washington Post reports.
Some tea party activists view themselves as representatives of the Republican Party’s conservative wing, but others see Republicans as no different than Democrats – part of the hated Washington establishment.
The afternoon meeting on Capitol Hill represents the first time that a wide group of tea party leaders have consulted with the top Republican brass.
The GOP has been trying to figure out how to include tea party members in its effort to reverse the Democrats’ majorities in Congress during this year’s elections.
Karin Hoffman, founder of DC Works For Us, a tea party group in South Florida, told The Post she came up with the meeting idea and presented it to Steele last month.
About 30 tea party groups around the country will be represented, and participants are all paying their own way to attend.
Some tea party heavies won’t be there because they can’t afford the travel, and some don’t want to engage the Republican establishment.
Hoffman’s aim is to create a line of discussion with Republican leaders, but she says the tea party groups have no intention of simply joining the GOP.
"From the get-go, the grass-roots movement emerged from people desiring to be heard and not feeling like their voices are being heard in Washington," she said.
The Republican Party has to tread carefully. Leaders of tea party movements in the inland Northwest accused local Republicans of “hijack attempts” to control their efforts, The New York Times reports.
“We had to stand our ground, I’ll be blunt,” Dann Selle, president of the Official Tea Party of Spokane, Wash. told The Times.
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