Amy Kremer, Chairman of Tea Party Express, told a CPAC audience Friday that "we won [the election] in 2010 because the Tea Party controlled the message. We lost in 2012 because the Republican Party controlled the message."
Kremer also criticized the mainstream media's coverage of the Tea Party movement, which launched in 2009. "They wrote our obituary but they haven’t been able to print it because we’ve been effective." She also aimed her ire at establishment Republicans. "The Republican Party doesn’t want to tell that story because they can’t control us," she said.
Ryan Hecker, head of the FreedomWorks for America PAC, agreed with Kremer's assessment. "The movement started because the Republican Party turned its back on fiscal responsibility." According to Hecker, reports of the Tea Party's death have been greatly exaggerated. "We’ve been called dead so many times," he said, "then something happens" and the Tea Party movement is in the forefront again.
Hecker set forward an agenda for the future. "In 2014 what we’re doing is recruiting. A lot of groups are recruiting candidates where we have weak Republicans or open seats."
Hecker believes that the enthusiastic reaction to Rand Paul's filibuster indicates the strength of the Tea Party movement. "Just last week was a very public display in Rand Paul’s filibuster. He was a Tea Party candidate in 2010 through and through... It wasn’t his office that caused #StandwithRand to be the #1 trending topic in Twitter. It was the grassroots."
Additional members on the CPAC panel on the future of the Tea Party movement included Jennifer Stefano of Americans For Prosperity, Dustin Stockton of Western PAC, and Niger Innis of TeaParty.net. No local Tea Party leaders were included in the panel.
Photo: Gage Skidmore