Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus in the House convened in Washington for the first time Wednesday, but it is receiving mixed reviews from Tea Party activists across the country.
“I don’t appreciate the caucus,” said one well-known activist, Robin Stublen, of Punta Gorda, Fla. “They don’t deserve it.”
Stublen, a former coordinator with the Tea Party Patriots, continued by saying that he finds it “hypocritical” that some of the 20-plus members who signed up for the caucus haven’t signed the Contract from America, a list of legislative desires trumpeted by many Tea Party leaders.
Stublen suggested Republicans like the idea of being associated with the Tea Party, but are wary of signing on to the Contract from America because the congressional GOP leadership is not behind it. But if they would sign it, he’d be open to the caucus.
“Put your money where your mouth is,” he said. “Until then I’m not buying it. I think it’s a ploy to get reelected.”
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Bachmann said the caucus will bring in “real people from various walks of life” to speak to its members about issues resonating within the Tea Party movement.
“Usually we invite experts in,” Bachmann said of other caucuses in the House. “Well, these are experts in just being regular Americans.”
Bachmann said the idea for the caucus originated when Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul said that if he wins election this November, he would form a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate.
“’Well, we’re here. Why wait?” Bachman said. “Lets go ahead and launch one.’”
Other Tea Party activists contacted by TheDC were favorable to the idea. Mark Meckler, a leader of the Tea Party Patriots organization, told TheDC that, “Any time there are folks out there aligning themselves with Tea Party values… I think that’s a good thing,” he said.
Mark Skoda, the head of the Memphis Tea Party and one of the co-founders of the Tea Party Federation, dismissed the idea that the caucus is a Republican plot to control the movement.
“The notion that Michele Bachmann is somehow co-opting the movement is ridiculous,” he said. “I think this effort could be an effective way to institutionalize some of the Tea Party’s aspirations and provide a sustainable voice in Congress.”
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