The Tea Party and its impending dilemma

It’s impossible to say with certainty whether in late 2007 any Republican leaders understood the power of the movement that Ron Paul’s candidacy had revealed. The excitement it sparked could be seen in their rear view mirrors, as many of the party’s chairman hopefuls would later voice. But what can be said with certainty is that the GOP establishment, and Fox News, looked in the eyes of the first Tea Party movement and did not like what they saw.

* * *

Several weeks after Paul’s Tea Parties, news circulated that he, along with Duncan Hunter, would be excluded from a pivotal New Hampshire debate. The timing was politically devastating. Hosted by Fox News and sponsored by the New Hampshire Republican Party, the debate was scheduled only two days before the state primary. By not being included in the debate, a message was being sent to voters — Ron Paul was not a viable candidate. Looking for a villain, Paul supporters began attacking Fox News for the exclusion. But from the initial reports, it wasn’t clear who was responsible for the unvitation.

Reports surfaced that a Fox spokeswoman pointed to the New Hampshire Republican Party as the one choosing the January 6th showdown participants. The state party later issued a statement suggesting that Fox News should not be in the business of excluding serious candidates, and noted that talks were ongoing with the network.

Paul supporters were outraged. In the first Republican primary in Iowa, Paul received over double the votes of Giuliani and he was polling higher than Thompson in the upcoming New Hampshire primary — yet both were invited to participate in the debate. And at the time there was no definitive leader. Compounding their frustrations, his campaign was widely thought to have outraised any Republican candidate in the previous quarter — and just came off of a reported one-day online fundraising record. If left out of the debate it would mark the beginning of the end of his candidacy.

As the debate neared, it was becoming apparent that the network would not be extending an invitation. The New York Times reported that the network was limiting participation to those polling in double digits nationally. What made this response confusing was that Paul was included in a Fox News debate scheduled four days after the one in which he was excluded. The New Hampshire GOP abruptly backed out as sponsor on the eve of the debate, citing that, “All candidates regardless of how well known they are or how much money they’ve raised should be treated equally here.”

As any savvy campaign would do, the Paul team planned a series of publicity events to use the exclusion to their advantage. Whenever possible, Paul referenced the snub, claiming Fox News was “scared” of him. His supporters took to the web, lambasting the network for what they saw as its control of the political process. The Monday after his exclusion, Paul appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to air his positions — a message Leno felt should have been heard the night before.

As anticipated by poll numbers, Ron Paul would go on to receive more votes than Fred Thompson in New Hampshire. He would, however, pay a price for his bad-mouthing tour.

  • Pingback: Occupy Wall Street Tries Re-Launch with May Day Protests - Hit & Run : Reason.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tania-Gail/1143771073 Tania Gail

    Actually the seeds of the teaparty were sown in 2005 with an organization called ‘Protest Warrior’. They organized counter rallies around anti war demonstrations. One such counter rally occurred in March 2005 in Central Park, NYC and the Gadsen Flag was on display against the hordes attending an anti war rally.




  • Cromwell

    After todays farce with DADT and START with 7 to 9 RINOS jumping ship we need to get this third party under way today if not yesterday. The GOP has sold out the Tea Party in the Lame duck session, Obama looks like a winner and the GOP made him look that way.

  • Pingback: The Tea Party and its impending dilemma | The Daily Caller … | church growth ministry

  • ringbell

    I went to the Tea Party event in DC on 9/12/09. My wifw would not go because she was afraid someone would see her and she’d lose her state job(and you thought this was a free country). I drove into DC and did not see any cars on the road so I thought I was only going to see a handful of people when I got there. However when I walked around the corner to Freedom Square and I was blown away by the size of the crowd that extended all the way to the Capital. I never me a nicer bunch of people in my life, from all over the country. Everyone was friendly and well behaved. There were a lot of funny and creative signs.

    There was no media coverae at all none. Well I don’t count CNN as media. Anyway I did not see them because the were so many people there. The point is this there are more of us than we think. The challange is emense because of the power brokers in this country are dead set against this coundtry returning to a democracy.There is big bucks in big government.

    The fight will be long and hard but we need to remain diligent regarding who ascends to the leadership roles. They will be trying to infultrate and destroy. What I like about the movement is the lack of career politicians. But I am afraid they will try to come in. And please don’t think that Fox News is going to be on our side. O’Reilly initially blew off he event by saying only 75,000 people attended. They call Fox a conservative news network with only 2 real conservatives on the payroll. Just think if they had three.