Tea party will ‘absolutely’ back Romney in general election, says movement leader

Though the tea party wasn’t particularly enthused about Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy during the primary, one tea party leader who was present at the inception of the movement says the tea party will get behind the former Massachusetts governor going into the general election.

“Absolutely, the tea party can and will support Mitt Romney in the general election, and with great energy in the door-to-door ground game,” said Michael Patrick Leahy, co-founder of The Nationwide Tea Party Coalition and author of the recently released book, “Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.”

“It’s important also to note that this is a strong sentiment at the local level — among the 3,000-plus local tea parties.”

“Though on the core values, Mitt Romney’s not as aligned with us as Michele Bachmann, he’s far superior to Barack Obama,” Leahy added.

“Our job in the tea party movement is to cautiously but vigorously befriend Romney, while reserving the right to encourage him — continuously — to align more closely with our core values. This encouragement to align has already begun, and it will continue through and beyond election day.”

Leahy also pushed back against the notion that the tea party is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

“[T]he tea party’s grassroots get-out-the-vote activities will be the deciding force of the 2012 presidential election,” he contested. (RELATED: Full coverage of the tea party movement)

“There are over 3,000 local tea parties around the country, and new tea parties are forming every day. The number of Americans who support the tea party movement — 66 million — is slightly higher than it was two years ago.”

“We’ve just changed our tactics,” he went on. “Instead of holding high-profile rallies, we’re focused on the nuts and bolts of building local get-out-the-vote organizations.”

Read the full interview with Leahy about his book and the state of the tea party movement below:

Why did you write the book?

I wrote “Covenant of Liberty” for two reasons.

First, I wanted to set forward the strong intellectual basis for the tea party movement. I wanted to show how deeply the movement and our three core values of constitutionally limited government, free markets and fiscal responsibility are rooted in the traditions of several centuries of Anglo-American liberty and the rule of law.

Second, I wanted to make sure that the true story of how the tea party movement was launched in 2009 was documented, for both the historical record and for people who are either currently part of it or are generally interested in learning about it.

I know that story because I was right at the center of things. I helped launch the movement.

A number of books have been written by biased and intellectually dishonest academics and journalists whose purpose has been to promote a false narrative about the movement. Many of these are propagandists of the first order, and I felt it was important that the truth about the movement needed to be told, even if the usual suspects on the left pay no attention to that truth.