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Perry, Sanford Start 'Tea Party 2.0'

By David A. Patten   |   Thursday, 14 May 2009 10:19 PM

An estimated 30,000 citizens participated Thursday evening in an unprecedented teleconference hosted by GOP governors Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, unveiling a “Tea Party 2.0” plan to fight ballooning federal deficits that under the Obama administration have reached record proportions.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) kicked off its event with brief remarks by both governors, who pointed out that a remarkable 38 governorships are up for grabs in the next two years — including this year’s closely watched races in Virginia and New Jersey.

Both leaders were careful to give credit to the grass-roots organizations that laid the groundwork for the Tax Day Tea Parties, which drew over 1.2 million participants to anti-tax rallies across the country on April 15 — while also acknowledging that those groups remain independent from the Republican Party.

“I think the question that [Gov.] Rick [Perry] and I are struggling with is, how do you honor what they got started?” Gov. Sanford said. “Not to supplant and not in any way to crowd out – but how do you honor [their accomplishments]?”

Acknowledging the Tea Party Patriots and the Tax Day Tea Party organizations responded to concerns group leaders voiced to Newsmax earlier in the day, urging that the Tea Party movement remain independent of any political party or other organization.

Longtime conservative leader and direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie told Newsmax prior to the teleconference that independence is a life-or-death matter for the Tea Party organizations.

“The surest way the grassroots Tea Party movement would die is to become affiliated with politicians or any political party or committee,” Viguerie said. “The Tea Party is a perfect example of what America needs – citizens providing leadership and energy. Politicians and the political establishment created the problem, heck they ARE the problem. If they weren’t the problem, we wouldn’t need the Tea Party movement, now would we?”

Perry’s comments on the group’s bipartisan nature appeared to agree.

“I’m telling you, I saw Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians. I saw people who didn’t want to be associated with any political party at the Tea parties I went to in Texas. And it was really invigorating to me, to see their passion. And our job is to work together … I want like-minded people to remain focused on what really matters, and to sustain this movement,” he said.

Among the questions Perry and Sanford fielded during the call:

  • What can be done to repair a GOP brand that was tainted by Bush-era deficit spending?

  • How to elect conservative Republicans in the face of mainstream-media opposition?

  • Can the party thrive while continuing to advocate conservative social positions such as pro-life and the sanctity of traditional marriage.

  • How to heal the apparent split between moderates and conservative Republicans?

  • What can states do to protect citizens from the growth of federal government?

    “You know, despite all the mockery of left-wing commentators,” Perry said, “the Tea Party movement is an example of a growing sense of frustration on the part of hard-working Americans. And it’s just going to get bigger.

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