Tea Party Patriots hold national summit this week in Phoenix

February 23, 2011

Tea Party buttonThis week, the Tea Party Patriots, a group billing itself as the movement’s largest grassroots organization, will hold its first national policy conference in Phoenix. The group claims to have more than 3,000 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationally.

Several probable 2012 presidential contenders will be speaking at the “American Policy Summit-Pathways to Liberty,” including Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The conference begins Friday, Feb. 25 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The Tea Party is an American political movement, generally recognized as conservative and libertarian. It has sponsored protests around the country and supported political candidates since 2009. The grassroots movement was a force in the 2010 elections, toppling a number of key Democratic-held Congressional and gubernatorial seats.

Supporters endorse reduced government spending, fiscal responsibility and free markets, opposes “Obamacare,”and adheres to an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, a protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773 and protested by dumping tea taken from docked British ships into the harbor. The Tea Party movement has caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

For more details, visit: www.summit11.org.


Wild card Republican candidate forms presidential exploratory committee

January 15, 2011

Photo of Herman Cain

Conservative talk show host from Atlanta

Herman Cain, the man with many nicknames – Citizen Cain, the King and the Godfather – and self-described as the Hermanator, has formally announced he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. This allows him to raise money for a possible White House run, a step none of the other likely GOP frontrunners have taken.

Cain was in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Saturday, Jan. 8, speaking to a group of approximately 50 people at a local restaurant. He lived in Omaha for 14 years as the head of the local-based Godfather’s Pizza, Inc. Council Bluffs was one of several stops Cain was making that weekend throughout the state to gauge interest among Republicans.

Cain is a successful businessman and conservative talk-show host of a popular radio program in Atlanta. He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University and was a corporate vice president for Burger King before leaving that job to serve as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, saving the company from bankruptcy. Previously, he served as chairman of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and was chairman of the board for the National Restaurant Association.

African-American, Cain regularly mocks racial hypersensitivity. The Atlantic related one such incident from a GOP event in New Orleans last year when Cain reviewed the liberal caricature of Tea Party activities as “racist, redneck tea baggers” and declared, “I had to go look in the mirror to see if I missed something!”

Cain is considered an underdog in the race because his political inexperience, which is limited to an unsuccessful run at the GOP 2004 Senate nomination in Georgia and a brief run for president in 2000; he doesn’t have a war chest or the grassroots political connections; and is not well known outside of Atlanta. Boosting his national recognition, Cain served as a recent guest host on the nationally syndicated Sean Hannity radio show and played a role in last year’s Hannity Freedom Concerts.

Readily admitting he would be up against a “strong field” of GOP contenders should he decide to run, Cain isn’t letting his financial and political deficits deter him. Frequently talking about overcoming his personal battle with Stage 4 colon cancer, Cain figures nothing else can stop him from delivering what he thinks the country is seeking in the next President.

Quoted in The Hill, Cain said: “People aren’t just looking for someone that can win. They’re looking for someone who can lead and the winning will take care of itself.”

In a country sick of politics as usual and seeking a fresh face in the GOP race, Cain may be the outsider with the executive-level business experience that will command the public’s attention. If you’re looking for a feisty candidate that could go toe-to-toe with Obama, Cain may be your choice. He was a major player in the defeat of HillaryCare back in 1994, after a legendary town-hall showdown with President Clinton.

On his website, Cain wrote: “The American Dream is under attack. In fact, a recent survey found 67% of the American People believe America is headed in the wrong direction. Sadly, this comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched an out-of-control federal government that spends recklessly, taxes too much and oversteps its Constitutional limits far too often.”

So the question remains – Is Cain serious about entering the presidential race or is he just seeking publicity to elevate his broadcasting career? Cain said he plans to spend several months seeing if he can muster enough support amongst donors and voters to justify a campaign.


Tea Party Express and CNN host debate in Tampa

December 19, 2010

Photo of Tea Party Express van

Tea Party Express vehicle

The Tea Party Express announced Friday it will join CNN in hosting a first-of-its-kind GOP presidential candidate debate the week of Labor Day 2011 in Tampa Bay, Fla.. The debate will focus on the economy and government spending. Tampa will also host the 2012 Republican National Convention Aug. 27–30, 2012.

“The Tea Party Express is a fascinating, diverse and grass-roots force that already has drastically changed the country’s political landscape,” Sam Feist, CNN’s political director, said in a statement.

Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, said the debate “will give presidential candidates an opportunity to focus on the issues near and dear” to Tea Party supporters. In an interview with CNN, Kremer added: “We’ve proven ourselves in this last campaign, election cycle of 2010, we’re only the Tea Party group engaged in the election activity. And we got involved because we simply believed that if we’re going to affect change we’re going to do it at the ballot box. And the Tea Party Movement has proven how powerful it is.”

The Tea Party Express is a Sacramento-based political action committee founded in 2009 by Sal Russo and Howard Kaloogian, two Californians with significant connections to the Republican Party. Russo was an aide to Ronald Reagan during his tenure as governor of California. Kaloogian is a former California state legislator and major player behind the successful 2003 recall of Governor Gray Davis.

The Tea Party Express gained notoriety for organizing a 19-day national bus tour of Tea Party activists. During the months of October and November, they stopped in major cities holding rallies in favor of limiting the size, role and influence of the federal government, and shrinking the deficit. The Tea Party Express was also instrumental in successfully advancing “Tea Party candidates” in the midterm elections.


To be or not to be: A contender in the Ames Straw Poll

December 19, 2010

Photo of strawsRepublican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn announced Thursday the party will host the Ames Straw Poll for presidential contenders Aug. 13, 2011. Strawn said the organization will also be teaming up with Fox News to host a Straw Poll debate Aug. 11, 2011. Both the Straw Poll and nationally televised debate will be held on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.

A debate televised on Fox certainly raises the profile of the Straw Poll. It also means candidates will be spending a lot more time in Iowa next year – meeting with Iowans, establishing campaign offices and naming staffers. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA, one of the most transparent about this ambitions to run for president in 2012, indicated Dec. 15 to members of the Quad City Tea Party he would soon put a staffer in Iowa.

Addressing the country from Ames sounds like an opportunity no prospective candidate would want to miss, especially with Iowa’s “first-in-the-nation” status in the caucus and primary process. The poll has become a crucial test of organizational strength in Iowa for presidential contenders, coming just months before the Iowa precinct caucuses. But critics contend the straw poll is mainly a way for the party to collect money from candidates, and in past years some high-profile contenders have decided not to compete.

Participation in the debate may hinge on whether the Iowa Republican Party and Fox News make involvement in the straw poll mandatory to appear in the debate. That decision will be made jointly by the party and Fox News, and a decision is pending.

The Iowa GOP and Fox also plan to cosponsor a debate in 2012 ahead of the caucuses, now scheduled for Feb. 6. No date has yet been set for this event.


Iowans anxiously await GOP primary contenders

December 14, 2010

Boxing ringThe audience of Iowa political activists and journalists has filled the winter arena, sitting with hot chocolate and microphones in hand. But the silence of the impending battle is deafening. The ringmaster waits anxiously, checking his microphone – check, check, check. But he has no names on the roster. Everyone seems to be hunkered down in the GOP locker room.

What’s going on? Usually, by now in the presidential campaign cycle there are at least a handful of candidates who have declared their intention to run. But not this time around.

The Iowa and national newspapers are awash with speculation and polling data. There have been plenty of book signings, but all of the prospective candidates seem to in a holding pattern – reluctant to be the first one stepping forward from the pack.

One factor contributing to the slowdown is a change in the primary process. The early caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada have been pushed back a month from January to February 2012.

There has also been a change in the rules that govern the Republican primaries. Beginning in March 2012, the results of the states’ votes in primary contests will no longer be “winner takes all.” States must establish a method for providing candidates appropriate shares of the vote. So it will be much more difficult for one candidate to jump to the lead in the primary race early in the process.

But it would appear that the main reason the GOP candidates are delaying their announcement may have more to do with the answer to a simple question – is she in or out – Sarah Palin that is. If not, then the candidates need to position themselves to appeal to more than their base, they need to find a way to attract independents and vocal Tea Party loyalists.

Palin, on the other hand, appears to be in no rush to make a decision. She is taking every opportunity to build support and brand herself. And she is getting plenty of face time as consultant for Fox News, star of her reality show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” and author on a whirlwind national book tour.

So for now – Iowans must continue to wait for the match-up to begin.


No clear choice amongst pack of Republican contenders

November 28, 2010

Star imageStill more than a year to go before the Iowa caucuses in February 2012, the field of GOP candidates includes several familiar names, but no clear front-runner.

The “anti-establishment” mentality and Tea Party movement are still in play coming off the midterm election. That puts candidates carrying political baggage in a tenuous position. Iowans seem to be looking for the fresh face and messaging that resonates with their concerns.

One thing is for sure, Republicans seem confident at this early stage they can retake the Presidential office in 2012. The President’s low approval rating, falling to 39 percent in one poll, makes that possibility more plausible.

However, the question remains – which one of the Republican contenders can pull it off; and, more importantly, which one would be the best choice to sit in the oval office for the following four years.

Now that the primary season has been pushed back by a month, the Presidential contenders at least have more time to make themselves known to voters and refine their messages. Until then, Iowans will be waiting for the rising star.


Tea Party movement sets their eyes on Iowa

November 27, 2010

Photo of Tea Party Express van

Tea Party Express vehicle

Eric Odom of Liberty.com and Americans for New Leadership said in a recent interview, “We are indeed preparing a full-scale ground game for Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Florida. This includes statewide conferences and events, traditional get-out-the vote organizing, Tea Party organizing, advocacy campaigns, and pretty much everything we can do to help sway the outcome of the primary in these states.”

For Liberty.com and other groups, the plan is to identify and energize supporters to pick Republican candidates that will appeal to the national Tea Party movement and prevent the GOP establishment from selecting the presidential candidate. Officials said they are not interested in being forced to accept the “same old retreads.”

Liberty.com plans to go door-to-door early next year and identify up to 50,000 activists in Iowa.