Tea Party groups duel over Romney’s appearance at New Hampshire rally

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Let the dueling begin! Tea Party Express (TPX) and FreedomWorks – two national tea party behemoths – have parted ways over the former’s decision to allow presidential candidate Mitt Romney to speak at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire this Sunday.

After the announcement, Washington, D.C.-based FreedomWorks announced it was bailing on its tour with TPX, and will instead, protest the rally and Romney’s appearance with local tea party leaders.

Wednesday morning, TPX responded with some biting words.

“It’s just silly to protest a tea party where Governor Romney is speaking,” read a statement from the group. “It would be just as ridiculous to protest Senator DeMint’s gathering on Monday, to which Romney has also been invited. Narrow mindedness is not the way to strengthen the tea party movement.”

In it’s explanation, FreedomWorks argued Romney should not be welcome because he supported “expanding the role of government through government-run health care, Wall Street bailouts and spending hikes.”

“Those positions are unacceptable to the tea party principles of lower taxes, less government and more freedom,” said the group’s president Matt Kibbe, in a statement. “For those reasons, we have decided to end our participation in the Reclaiming America Tour.”

FreedomWorks has said publicly that its number-one goal in 2012 is to prevent Mitt Romney from ascending to the White House and that its “activist base is just as anti-Romney as they are.”

But TPX is having none of it, going so far as to call FreedomWork’s decision “at best a misguided press stunt.”

“The Tea Party Express has a reputation for being inclusive during its rallies…that’s because the Tea Party Express trusts the ability of tea party members to evaluate candidates and issues, and make up their own minds,” said TPX’s statement. “We don’t think it is right to tell the tea party who they can and can’t listen to. A top-down isolationist approach isn’t constructive to the political process.”

May the best tea party group win?

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Amanda Carey