The country’s largest Tea Party organization is warning that the future GOP presidential nominee shouldn’t automatically count on having the support of its grassroots activists.
“There was some controversy that was created when another Tea Party group came out and said the Tea Party movement would line up behind whoever is the Republican nominee,” Mark Meckler, a national coordinator for the organization, said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing with reporters Wednesday. “I think that’s presuming an awful lot.”
“Tea Partiers are very independent folks by nature,” he said in response to questions from The Daily Caller, “they make their own decisions, there’s no organization, no leader to tell them what to do.”
Still, Jenny Beth Martin, another national coordinator of the breakfast event, cautioned that Tea Partiers are focused on nominating the best Republican. She said they aren’t yet talking about third-party voting, a scenario that could come into play if the eventual GOP candidate is someone like Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — with whom they admit they have philosophical differences.
“We really haven’t gone that far in the discussions with them … our folks think that it’s better to just wait and see who comes out of the primary before they start looking at those hypothetical questions,” she said.
But is it a plausible scenario?
“Anything’s possible,” Meckler said, “but again my crystal ball isn’t that clear.”
Asked about the Republicans running for president, Meckler said he thinks “it’s a strong field.”
“As far as Romney in general, he clearly has difficulties with the Tea Party,” Meckler added. “He’s attached to RomneyCare; he’s done a poor job of distancing himself from that. I think he probably squandered an incredible opportunity as probably the best guy to say, ‘I tried this and it failed.’
“He’s taken other positions that are contrary to what the average Tea Partier would take. Positions on man-made global warming, positions on energy efficiency. So I think he’s in real trouble with the Tea Party.”
Meckler also praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is likely to join the race, comparing the Lone Star State’s job-creation record with those elsewhere in the country.
“I think Perry changes the equation, in the sense that he has a record in Texas to run on,” he said.