Sal Russo, the seasoned Republican consultant who founded the Tea Party Express PAC in March 2009, says there are “zero” big-government Republicans today.
“When Reagan became president, he had all these big-government Republicans. There are zero today,” Russo told The Hill.
“[Maine Sen.] Susan Collins isn’t a big-government Republican; I’ve known Susan Collins [for decades], she’s not a big-government Republican. [Illinois Sen.] Mark Kirk isn’t a big-government Republican,” The Hill reports Russo as saying.
Veteran Tea Party activists from around the country, many of whom helped start the movement before Russo jumped on board, ridiculed his “zero big-government Republicans today” claim.
Zan Green, founder of the Birmingham, Alabama Rainy Day Patriots, thinks Russo’s comments are disconnected from reality.
“Has everyone gone mad?” she asked.
“Sal Russo waving his Gadsden Flag doesn’t make him in vogue with the Tea Party anymore than bashing Reagan makes the left wing Tea Party.”
“Writing nonsense like this,” Green said, “just makes Sal Russo irrelevant!”
The group Green founded takes its name from the rain that fell in Birmingham on February 27, 2009, the day activists there and in 50 other cities around the country held the first Tea Party protests.
“I love Sal but I have to ask, in what universe are either Mark Kirk or Susan Collins small-government Republicans?” Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, told Breitbart News.
“They are poster children for what is wrong with the GOP today. They are big government Republicans who want the GOP to look like the country club Republicans of the 1970s in every way including being in the minority,” Phillips added.
Like Green, Phillips was an original Tea Party organizer, responsible for both the February 27, 2009 and April 15, 2009 Tea Party rallies held in Nashville, Tennessee.
Joe Dugan, founder and executive producer of the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, thinks Russo has both his math and his politics all wrong.
“I believe Mr. Russo is completely off base when he states, ‘Politics is a game of addition, not a game of subtraction,'” Dugan told Breitbart News.
“For the past six years the administration, Congressional Democrats and self-serving Establishment Republicans have been hell bent on subtracting from our Bill of Rights and Constitution,” Dugan said.
“The political game of addition,” Dugan noted, “is seen in additional taxes, fees, regulations and inside deals made unanimously by Congressional Democrats and the complicit republican leadership in both the House and the Senate.”
Dugan offers a grassroots, common sense reply to Russo.
“The constant deceit, lies and deception are the cause of the almost complete lack of trust in government. Change that and Mr. Russo would see more addition than he ever dreamed of!” Dugan concluded.
“It appears that Mr. Russo is completely out of touch with the true nature of the grassroots Tea Party movement,” Eric Olsen of the Montana Shrugged Tea Party Patriots, told Breitbart News.
“It is simple, we are concerned citizens. We are concerned about the most serious threat to our national security which is the National Debt. Beyond that we are concerned about too much encroachment into our personal lives by all governments,” Olsen added.
“Mr. Russo has a sweet deal, spending $5 million on overhead annually,” Olsen added.
“We have none of this financial benefit on local levels. We work with true passion coming from the heart and we are making real change happen,” Olsen concluded.
The headline of The Hill article, which described Russo as a “leader” of the Tea Party movement, also drew scorn from veteran Tea Party activists.
“Sal Russo is not now, nor has he ever been a leader in the Tea Party movement,” Mark Lloyd, a Virginia Tea Party activist since 2009, told Breitbart News.
“In fact, he is a parasite,” Lloyd continued.
“He and his organizations have sucked resources from the grassroots that could have made a real difference in the hands of those who actually made things happen,” Lloyd added.
Like many veteran Tea Party activists around the country who spoke with Breitbart News, Lloyd has a message for Russo.
“I would like to say this to him: Turn around, Sal. No one is following you! You’re not leading anyone, you are just out for a long walk.”