Tea party leader: Movement’s role ‘more important and more difficult’ if Romney wins

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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If Mitt Romney becomes president, don’t expect the tea party movement to just fade away without Barack Obama in the White House.

“I think that our role becomes even more important and more difficult at that point,” Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin told The Daily Caller in a Thursday afternoon interview at a Washington, D.C. coffee shop.

Martin said the conservative grassroots will embrace the role of making sure Romney sticks to the fiscal principles he’s campaigned on: cutting government and reducing spending.

“I think that if Romney wins,” Martin told TheDC, “that’ll be a huge challenge for us and something that the Republicans won’t quite know how to deal with.”

The tea party coordinator said if Republicans end up with control of both Congress and the White House, and then allow spending to get out of control, tea party activists are “not going to put up with that again.”

“That’s part of what motivated people, what sparked the anger in this movement,” she said.

Asked to describe the general tea party mood heading into the election, she quoted an activist from Florida who told her she feels “grim determination.”

“It’s not excitement and exuberance, it’s just grim determination,” Martin said. “So much is at stake. The president himself has said this election is a choice between two different futures for America. The people in this movement get that.”

Does that mean tea partiers, many of whom have been wary of Romney all along, aren’t excited about the Republican nominee?

“I don’t know that it’s really that,” Martin said after a pause. “People understand where we’re headed and they’re worried. They’re really worried about their country.”

Asked to describe the frequency with which the Romney campaign and Tea Party Patriots interact, Martin said it was not very often.

“We had Romney on a couple tele-town halls, back when we did those as the primary season was in full swing,” she said. “Other than that, we haven’t had any contact with him at all.”

One likely reason for this, she said, is that with her group’s tax status, “there can’t be collaboration or coordination, so I’m not surprised they haven’t reached out.”

But can she envision members of the Tea Party Patriots going to the White House to meet with Romney’s people?

“I haven’t even thought of that at all,” she said. “I really haven’t.”

Jenny Beth Martin is confident of one thing, however. “Whether they get to know us or not, they’ll know who we are when they’re elected and they don’t cut the spending,” she said.

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Alex Pappas