Tea Party-Related Groups Meet RNC's Steele

Tuesday, 16 Feb 2010 04:01 PM

By Dan Weil

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In another indication that the GOP wants to leverage the tea-party movement to help win elections, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and other top Republicans are meeting with about 50 leaders of various conservative, grass-roots groups Tuesday.

The participants will discuss ideology and campaign tactics, The Washington Post reports.

The afternoon meeting on Capitol Hill represents the first time that a wide coalition of grass-roots organizations has 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 conservative, grass-roots group in South Florida, told the Post she came up with the meeting idea and presented it to Steele last month.

About 30 groups from around the country were to be represented at today's meeting. Participants are all paying their own way to attend.
Hoffman’s aim is to create a line of discussion with Republican leaders. "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, however. Leaders of several major tea party groups have voiced suspicions that some GOP leaders want to co-opt or "hijack" the movement to advance party interests.

“We had to stand our ground, I’ll be blunt,” Dann Selle, president of the Official Tea Party of Spokane, Wash., told The New York Times.

The media has billed the meeting as a pow-wow between the GOP and tea party activists. But a news release from the DC Works For Us group merely refers to a gathering of "grass-roots organizations," not tea party organizations per se.

Everett Wilkinson, a Tea Party Patriots leader, told Newsmax, "The tea party movement is not involved in this."

In part the confusion over whether the event reflects an official tea party activity reflects the decentralized nature of the tea party movement itself.

In recent months, the tea party groups have struggled to formulate a unified message, given the movement's apparently lack of centralized control.

Hoffman did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to a Newsmax request for clarification regarding which groups are participating in the meeting with the GOP.



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