News tagged as 'Newt Gingrich'

Why is Santorum Rising?


Recent polls show former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum rising. Some national polls of Republican primary voters show him in the lead, other show him closely behind Mitt Romney. Many polls show him competitive in a head to head race with President Obama. In the remaining primary states, he currently has a slight lead over Romney in Michigan, and is within striking distance in Arizona. Both states hold primaries a week from tomorrow.

Why is Santorum surging, Romney stalling, Gingrich sliding, and Paul holding steady?

His success comes more from his strategy of engaging voters in a one-on-one retail approach than it does the specifics of his policies. While he appealed to the strong current of evangelical voters in Iowa, and laid out a very credible foreign policy approach, we can’t ignore his Big Government approach to spending and social issues.

If we were to look to a seventeenth century figure in the Anglo-American culture who Santorum’s policies most resemble, it would be the authoritarian Christian communitarianism of Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first governor John Winthrop to whom we would point, not the Christian natural liberty of English libertarian John Lilburne.

The Cato Instititute’s David Boaz recently pointed out Santorum’s poor track record of support for the limited government ethos that defines the Tea Party movement.

Michael Barone notes that Santorum’s deft explanation for his endorsement of RINO Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican Senate Primary in Pennsylvania (Specter’s re-election was critical, Santorum said, because he was needed to usher Alito and Roberts on to the Supreme Court) was only half of the story. Barone points out that Santorum, the political operative with 16 total years in Congress, owed his 1994 election to the Senate to Specter’s support.

Santorum’s tax proposals, however, are so bad that the respected Tax Foundation gave him a D+. Instead of simplifying the tax code, Santorum would maintain its present complexity. Worse yet, he favors the Hamiltonian strategy of picking winners and losers through the tax code, providing a variety of incentives to favored industry. Manufacturing, which struggles in his native Pennsylvania, gets special tax benefits.

Comparing Santorum’s policies to those of his two main competitors–Gingrich and Romney, Santorum is only slightly less Hamiltonian. Santorum distinguishes himself from these two in one key regard — he opposed the TARP bank bailouts of October, 2008.

Why, then, does Santorum enjoy more than a 2 to 1 advantage over both Gingrich and Romney among Republican primary voters who consider themselves tea party supporters?

There are three reasons:

1. Santorum is authentic and consistent in his views.

2. He is likable and approachable.

3. He genuinely engages with local tea parties around the country.

Romney, for reasons that continue to remain a mystery to me, appears to be following a strategy of actively avoiding the Tea Party movement. To my knowledge, he has never addressed an actual tea party rally or local tea party group. In December, he spoke on the phone at a tea party tele-town hall with other Presidential candidates, but that appears to be the extent of his direct communication with the Tea Party movement.

This remoteness–an odd strategy to keep Romney in a “bubble” away from potential supporters–seems to permeate his campaign. In Ohio last week, for instance, Attorney General Mike DeWine withdrew his endorsement of Romney and endorsed Santorum. “He doesn’t write, he doesn’t call,” DeWine said of Romney.

Gingrich, who has a long and twisted history with the movement, has, until recently spoken at numerous tea party rallies, but has never really actually modified his policies according to communications he’s received at these rallies, at least as far as I can tell. And where Santorum appears friendly, upbeat, and approachable, Gingrich appears a bitter, scowling, intellectual elitist. Santorum is blue collar, Gingrich is academic cap and gown.

This Saturday, for instance, Santorum will be the featured speaker at the Third Anniversary Celebration of the Tea Party movement to be held in Chattanooga Tennessee, hosted there by the local tea party. Romney turned down a similar invitation, giving Santorum an open running field to garner tea party support around the country. This is not the first time Santorum has spoken to local tea party groups. Last week he was a featured speaker at a tea party gathering in Ohio. Clearly, Santorum has realized the value of showing up and engaging with tea parties, especially in states like Tennessee and Ohio, where Super Tuesday primaries will be held on March 6.

The lesson from Santorum’s recent success should be his tactics more than his message. Retail politics works. Television ads, robocolls, email blasts and the like are increasingly “white noise” –irritating background ignored by most voters.  The election of 2012 will be decided more by neighbors talking to neighbors they trust than it will be traditional media. Age old person to person  grassroots politicking is experiencing a resurgence. And that’s a good thing for the country.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

A Better Tea Party Slapdown


I do not dispute Michael Patrick Leahy’s claim (“Tea Party Slaps Down Mitt Romney in South Carolina”) that a fair measure of Newt Gingrich’s wide victory margin in South Carolina can be attributed to Tea Party influence. I would agree with that claim. The Tea Party is angry. Newt Gingrich is angry.

Gingrich, the winner of our third presidential contest, gives voice on a national stage to the Tea Party’s outrage and frustration over enlarging socialist public policy, liberal media bias and entertainment industry antagonism. He goes after them directly and does not tend to mince words or shrink from a fight. The tea partiers are hearing from Newt what they want to say themselves — and how they want it said. And voting for him over Romney in this Southern primary sends a message to all concerned that this is their attitude toward a whole host of adversaries; some included the Republican establishment.

The question for me is this: Is a primary election the proper place to vent a frustration that could give improper cover to a candidate that does not deserve their attention and which could give the false impression that this candidate, above all others, understands and respects their values and will carry them forward into national policy once in office?

I think not. The stakes in this election are high and missteps along the way are amplified. When the Tea Party calms down and takes a careful, steady look at the candidates still standing, they would be wise to seriously consider the candidate who has been with them all along and even heralded their very emergence: Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is the quintessential Tea Party politician and has been for decades preceding the rise of this populist movement. Physician, veteran and congressman Ron Paul consistently articulates the Tea Party position on a range of public policy issues. He opposes unconstitutional and immoral entitlement programs, corporate bailouts, stimulus packages and capricious military adventures that materially harm our national security. He would happily dismantle federal agencies that do nothing but prop up union power and favored special interest groups at taxpayer expense. He is the primary spokesman for ending the central banking cartel that controls monetary policy, debases our currency, prints endless supplies of debt-based money and manipulates interest rates that trigger devastating economic booms and busts. In Congress, he has steadfastly voted for lower taxes, for a balanced budget, for gun rights, for an unregulated internet and for stricter limitations on the power of the executive branch.

“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

Both the Tea Party and Ron Paul have long agreed that the country is moving in the wrong direction. If you are driving your car toward the edge of a cliff, you need radical change. Ron Paul is precisely that type of change. And we need it now, not later, when it’s too late. And I think it is also important that we lend our considerable support to a candidate who not only has the right message but who delivers it consistently as a seasoned statesman with an even temper.

So, consider wisely and vote accordingly. We all have a lot to loose. A national victory for Ron Paul would be the hardest slapdown the Tea Party could possibly deliver.

Tim Peck was a co-founder of the Asheville, North Carolina Tea Party.

Pawlenty’s Wrong: Gingrich Can Beat Obama


In light of the drubbing Mitt Romney received Saturday at the hands of Newt Gingrich, failed Presidential candidate and Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty asserted today that Newt Gingrich can’t beat Obama.

The dramatic increase in voter turnout in South Carolina’s Republican primary (up 35% in 2012 from 2008) tells us otherwise. This morning’s news about Gingrich’s 9% lead in Florida from Rasmussen Reports confirms the trend. At the moment, the energy in the Republican race for the nomination is behind Gingrich.

As I’ve noted in this space previously, there are plenty of reasons for the Tea Party to doubt Gingrich’s record as much as Romney’s. But the Romney surrogates who focus on alleged electability problems are missing the key point of this battle.

Voters in South Carolina were well aware of Gingrich’s shortcomings. Yet they voted for him in part because, as Ann Coulter notes disapprovingly, they want someone who can take the battle to Obama.

If Governor Pawlenty wants to make the case why tea partiers should vote for Romney he should focus on the much more fertile ground and explain–if he can–why Romney policies are more in alignment with the tea party’s core values of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and constitutionally limited government than Gingrich’s.

As it stands now, Pawlenty’s argument is just “white noise” — an irritating sound in the background you just want to go away.

Whether Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or even Rick Santorum or Ron Paul secure the Republican nomination, this much is clear to me based on the tremendous turnout in South Carolina. Whoever the Republican Party nominates will defeat President Obama in November, 2012, provided they earn the support of the Tea Party movement.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and co-organizer of Election Day Tea Party 2012. His new book,Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

The Tea Party Slaps Down Mitt Romney in South Carolina


Newt Gingrich’s stunning 40% to 28% victory over Mitt Romney in today’s South Carolina Republican Presidential primary is more a Tea Party slap down of Romney than a complete embrace of Gingrich.  The victory was so clear that Fox News called the race seconds after the polls closed at 7 pm eastern time. I’ve written previously in this space that the two GOP frontrunners are both more Big Government Hamiltonians than limited government, tea party aligned Jeffersonians.

While both candidates are far superior to the Constitution-busting collectivist currently occupying the White House, it would be highly inaccurate to call either candidate a consistent supporter of the Tea Party’s three core values of constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility.

Wasn’t that Newt Gingrich just the other day bashing Romney for his years operating as a free market capitalist at Bain Capital? Isn’t he the same guy who took over $1.5 million in fees from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, endorsed RINO Dede Scozzafava in NY-23, sat on the global warming couch with Nancy Pelosi, clasped arms with Al Sharpton to promote more expansive Department of Education programs, and enthusiastically supported President Bush’s budget breaking pharmaceutical benefits give-away in 2003?

And isn’t that the same Mitt Romney who introduced RomneyCare to Massachusetts, the model for Obamacare, supported the TARP bailout, the Stimulus Package, at one time supported cap and trade like policies, and counts John McCain among his supporters?

But, as the old pros often say, “politics ain’t bean bag,” and modern political candidates are neither Jesus nor John Locke. They are ambitious men with personal agendas who can be persuaded to do the right thing by forceful political pressure applied at the right place and time by savvy conservatives.

What distinguishes Gingrich from Romney is less policy than style and tactics.

Stylistically, he loves to attack, and, as his decimation of John King in Thursday’s debate illustrates, he’s quite good at it.

Tactically, he’s figured out something that the buttoned down Romney, practitioner of the corporate model of hierarchical decision making, has missed entirely.

The energy and passion in Republican politics today is found in abundant supply–and almost exclusively–in the Tea Party movement. While Romney has dismissed and ignored it entirely, Gingrich has cultivated and successfully used it. To be fair, the movement itself has used Gingrich to its advantage, as it did in March, 2009 when he and his American Solutions group were invited by three small online conservative activist groups to co-sponsor what became the hugely successful Tax Day Tea Party rallies of 1 million Americans held in 900 cities on April 15, 2009.

But Gingrich is not a champion of the Tea Party’s core values. He is, like most politicians, the champion of his own ambitions. He’s spent his career crafting political coalitions, and he sees the Tea Party movement as yet another interest group to be manipulated to support his personal goal of securing the most powerful job in the world.

While Romney’s campaign staff ignored endorsements from a handful of local tea party groups, as well as offers to campaign for him in South Carolina, the Gingrich campaign has made a concerted effort to engage with and obtain support from South Carolina tea party leaders. Allen Olsen, the former leader of the Columbia, South Carolina Tea Party, was an early Gingrich supporter in that state, for instance. Joe Dugan, leader of a tea party group in Myrtle Beach, was another Gingrich backer who helped get-out-the-vote today.

Most of the credit for Gingrich’s South Carolina success must go to young Adam Waldeck, a Gingrich campaign staffer who has loyally followed Gingrich from American Solutions, where he was that group’s “point man” dealing with the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition that sponsored the 2009 Tax Day Tea Party, to South Carolina, where he’s played a key role in nurturing and developing local tea party relationships and endorsements. Another tip of the hat goes to Kellen Giuda, the Tea Party Coalitions Director in the Gingrich campaign who first persuaded Gingrich to be one of the featured speakers at the New York City Tax Day Tea Party event back in April of 2009.

These efforts to court the Tea Party movement paid off in a very big way today in South Carolina. Polls showed that by a margin of 46% to 21%, those primary voters who call themselves supporters of the Tea Party voted for Gingrich over Romney. This provided him with his margin of victory.

Now that it looks like we are set for an extended race to earn the Republican nomination, it’s time for the Tea Party to communicate clearly what it wants from all four of the remaining candidates. We’ll work to help get-out-the-vote in both the primaries and the general election, but all four of these candidates need to earn our support by not only engaging with us and acknowledging our influence, but more importantly by modifying their policies to consistently align with our three core values

For the Romney campaign this means it’s time to start making those phone calls to us. We don’t want to talk to third level staffers. We want to talk candidly and directly with Mitt Romney himself. If you’re not prepared to do that, don’t bother calling.

Because, frankly, our phone lines are already burning up with calls from Newt Gingrich and his campaign team.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and co-organizer of Election Day Tea Party 2012. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Newt Gingrich’s Dangerous Attack on American Constitutional Principles—and Tea Party Values


A few weeks ago, the idea factory that is Newt Gingrich generated its worst idea in 68 years.

Following in the footsteps of the court-packing scheme proposed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937, the former Speaker set forward an outrageous set of “judicial reform” proposals. These plans have more in common with Roosevelt’s grand plan to subordinate the centuries old Anglo-American legal tradition of an independent judiciary to the whims of a power hungry class of political operatives in the legislative and executive branches than they do with serious minded Constitutionally based reform.

His campaign posted a 50 page document,  Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution, outlining his proposals  on his website. His purpose, he says, is to “[r]estore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated Constitutional powers available to the president and Congress to correct, limit, or replace judges who violate the Constitution.”

Criticisms have come from the left and the right. Erwin Chemerinksy, Dean of the UC Irvine Law School, argues that Gingrich suggestion that we consider impeaching federal judges because of the content of their decisions is unconstitutional:

“Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution allows impeachment only for “treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors.” It does not allow, and never has been used, to remove judges because their opinions are unpopular. Life tenure for federal judges exists precisely so that they will decide cases based on their best understanding of the Constitution and the law, not to please politicians and voters.”

Mark Fitzgibbons, at American Thinker, argues Gingrich courts the demise of the Citizen United ruling. He points to this clause in Gingrich’s proposal:

“Acting together, the legislative and executive branches can therefore limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts through ordinary legislation. This legislation would remove the power of the courts to hear certain types of cases that the executive and legislative branches believe that the federal judiciary has simply gotten wrong in the past.”

Fitzgibbons properly notes  that with such power, an Obama-Reid-Pelosi axis “would have acted to limit the courts’ authority to hear First Amendment cases involving elections, such as Citizens United.” Gingrich’s proposal, Fitzgibbons concludes, “is both unconstitutional and unwise.”

An independent judiciary has been the cornerstone of Anglo-American jurisprudence since 1610, when Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas (roughly equivalent to our modern Supreme Court), told King James I to keep his hands out of decisions made in his court. James wanted Coke to decide a case in the crown’s favor, but Coke emphatically told the Stuart tyrant to stay out of his business:

“The King in his own person cannot adjudge any case, either criminal…or betwixt party and party…this ought to be determined and adjudged in some Court of Justice, according to the Law  and Custom of England.”

Coke paid the price for his defiance—serving time in the Tower of London after losing his judicial appointment—but the Stuart tyrant was unable to effectively defeat Coke’s notion that an independent judiciary was a critical element in the balance of powers in seventeenth century England.

The most serious challenge to an independent judiciary in the United States came with Roosevelt’s court packing attempts. Angry with the Supreme Court that had struck down much of his first New Deal, Roosevelt petulantly set about to correct the errors of the court. After his landslide victory in 1936, he followed his March, 1937 inauguration with a “fireside chat” with phrasing that eerily predicted the language in Gingrich’s recent proposal:

“In the last four years, the sound rule of giving statutes the benefit of all reasonable doubt has been cast aside…During the past half-century the balance of power between the three great branches of the federal government has been tipped out of balance by the courts in direct contradiction of the high purposes of the framers of the Constitution. It is my purpose to restore that balance.

Fortunately for the country, FDR’s proposal to add six new justices to the Court, died in a skeptical Congress a few months later.

Now, more than seven decades later, Gingrich has proposed his own version of FDR’s court packing plan. This shouldn’t surprise us. After all, as recently as 2005, Gingrich called FDR “the greatest president of the twentieth century.”

Like FDR, however, Gingrich’s ideas represent a dangerous attack on the Constitution, one which reflects his lack of commitment to not only Constitutional principles, but also the core values of the Tea Party movement. Most of us, committed as we are to Constitutionally limited government, recoil at the thought of making federal judges scrape and bow before self important legislators and Presidential candidates.

While Gingrich is correct to point out that seven decades of an activist judiciary has dramatically and incorrectly expanded concepts of the federal government’s proper Constitutional role, his medicine will do more harm to the patient than the illness it is designed to treat. The long term solution to address the imbalance caused by this judicial activism is to elect Constitutional minded Presidents who will appoint “originalists” to the court and conservative Senators with strong backbones who will fight for their confirmation.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Newt Gingrich, Champion of Hamiltonian Statism


On the Glenn Beck radio program today, Newt Gingrich once more confirmed his support for Hamiltonian industrial policies. In some instances, such as ethanol, Gingrich argued, the federal government should subsidize some industries over others. In other instances, such as the automobile industry, such subsidies should not be undertaken.

Gingrich failed to offer a convincing argument why subsidies are appropriate for some industries and companies, but not others.

When he cited the history of subsidies to manufacturers and other companies in America, the former professor of history got in to big trouble with those of us who support the three core values of the Tea Party movement: (1) Constitutionally Limited Government (2) Free Markets and (3) Fiscal Responsibility.

Gingrich pointed to two examples of “successful” industrial subsidies in our nation’s first century — Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufactures and the transcontinental railroad built during the 1860s.

He could not have found two better examples that illustrate the corrupting nature of the federal government picking winners and losers.  In fact, “Professor” Gingrich seems to have either missed history’s lessons about the adverse affects of crony capitalism, or he’s emulating some big-government villains in American history.

As I point out in my new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, Alexander Hamilton was the original champion of crony capitalism. Indeed, before introducing his Report on Manufactures to the Second Congress in December, 1791, Hamilton had organized and raised capital for a private company called The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. Though he himself was not an investor, he wrote the prospectus, and persuaded his many financial speculator friends in New York City to invest in the deal. Why wouldn’t they? With the public backing of the Secretary of the Treasury, it was a sure thing. Hamilton persuaded the State Government of New Jersey to invest, as well as numerous Congressmen, a future Supreme Court Justice, and the Governor of New Jersey himself.

In his Report on Manufactures, Hamilton asked Congress to subsidize this very company, without specifically naming it.  The Chairman of SEUM, a financial manipulator by the name of William Duer, soon was caught up in the first national Wall Street financial scandal, emptied all the investor funds from the company, and went to debtors prison. Hamilton got his friends at the Bank of New York (where much of the federal government’s funds were invested) to loan $10,000 to the essentially bankrupt enterprise, and it limped along for another five years before it became, at least temporarily, a shell company.

SEUM purchased land in what is now Paterson, New Jersey, and the ruins of its buildings can be seen there today. Why did the enterprise fail ? Because neither Hamilton nor any of the investors in the company (the speculators and politicians) knew anything about manufacturing.

This is a project that Gingrich points to as an example we should emulate today?

It gets worse.

In 1862, the Republican controlled Congress passed, and President Lincoln signed, the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The law authorized two companies — California’s Central Pacific, and the newly organized Union Pacific — to receive significant federal subsidies (in the form of low interest, guaranteed construction loans and grants of federal land along the railroad routes). The law was largely written by Theodore Judah, a co-owner of the Central Pacific, who was allowed to serve as the secretary to both the House Committee and Senate Committee that had jurisdiction over the bill ! Little surprise that only one company was authorized to operate in California.

While the transcontinental railroad was successfully built, and by 1869 had connected the West Coast to the East Coast, the construction work was so shoddy, the corruption and graft so great, over the next five years every mile of the track had to be rebuilt. In addition, $23 million of the $54 million of federal funding provided to the project was stolen by Thomas C. Durant, Abraham Lincoln’s former law client, and the man who controlled both Union Pacific and its designated construction company, Credit Mobilier. Throughout the 1860s, many Republican members of Congress were bribed with shares of Credit Mobilier in return for their continued funding of Union Pacific.

As the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary approach, it is well for those of us in the Tea Party movement to remember that just because Newt Gingrich gives speeches to tea party groups, it does not mean he supports the three core values of the movement. Indeed, if the Tea Party movement is defined as the champion of the limited government of Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson, it is fair to say that Newt Gingrich is the champion of Hamiltonian statism. If you don’t believe me, just listen to Gingrich himself.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

A President Who Will Just Get Out of the Way


After a century of Presidential extra-constitutional activism that’s reached a new peak under the administration of Barack Obama, the nation is signalling it’s time for a change. The will of the country, as evidenced by the calls for Constitutionally Limited Government coming from those of us in the Tea Party movement, is to elect a President who, in domestic matters, will just get out of the way. On matters of foreign policy, we are looking for a President who will defend our sovereignty, as specified in the Constitution.

How does the current crop of Republican aspirants stack up ?

Ron Paul, of course, meets the standard of getting out of the way on domestic matters, but his isolationist views don’t square with the Constitutional requirement to defend our sovereignty.

Rick Santorum’s social agenda calls for a more intrusive federal state in those areas.

To my mind, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and John Huntsman all advocate varying degrees of federal intrusiveness in the domestic arena–nowhere near Obama’s level, mind you, but still beyond this tea partier’s comfort zone. In addition, Huntsman sounds a bit isolationist.

That leaves Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann.

Both Cain and Bachmann advocate policies that are quite consistent with non-interference in domestic policies and defense of our sovereignty in the international arena.

The mainstream media is reporting that the Tea Party movement is enamored of Rick Perry, but he has weaknesses in two areas. His 2007 position advocating mandatory Gardasil inoculations of Texas school girls is not consistent with the “get out of the way” sentiments on domestic policy, and his apparent support for open borders fails the test of defending our sovereignty in the international arena.

Despite these two significant weaknesses, Perry has one critical advantage over both Cain and Bachmann. The office he’s occupied for over a decade–Governor of Texas–is constrained by limits imposed on executive authority in the Texas State Constitution.

Whether it’s those constitutional constraints or Perry’s natural philosophy that has led him to largely stay out of the way on domestic economic policies in Texas, the results have been the same. Non-interference in business by the executive branch of state government there has helped give Texas the best record of job creation in the country by far over the past decade.

Perry’s rise in the polls may be evidence of that old maxim: It’s better to be lucky than good. Perhaps Perry is both. We’ll be watching this closely as the Presidential campaign continues over the next year. All this is to suggest, once more, as has been previously suggested in this space, that a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that offers a guide to the 2012 Presidential contenders would be most welcome.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Ron Paul is Not the Founder of the Tea Party Movement


Christina Botteri had an excellent post in this space yesterday, in which she argued that Ron Paul is not the first person to claim he founded the Tea Party movement. I agree with Christina that a Voices of the Tea Party e-book on the true origins of the movement would be very helpful. Like Christina, I was one of the 97 every day Americans who helped organize the first set of nationwide tea party events, and I would like to add my perspective about Ron Paul’s claim on the Tea Party movement.

No one would argue that  Ron Paul is without political baggage.  From his near-permanent presidential campaign to his earmarking habits to his foreign policy stances, there aren’t many people in politics who haven’t found occasion to take a swipe at him.  And while I do number quite a few Ron Paul supporters among both my friends and the members of our local tea party (which oddly sounds like I’m trying to say “some of my best friends are libertarians”), I’ve bottled this one up long enough.  In the words of our president, let me be perfectly clear:


There. I said it.

This mantra has been going around for a while, presumably to create warm-fuzzies in tea party types when they look for a presidential candidate.  Alternately, it’s used by the media to paint tea party rank-and-file members with the same brush as Paul’s  followers and thus discredit them to the larger American audience who don’t “get” them.  One could argue the ideological paternity of the movement rests in part with Dr. Paul, and that’s a discussion for another day, but the implication is always that the man himself coordinated, planned and executed this vast groundswell of grassroots activism.

So as this election cycle ramps up, it behooves us to examine the timeline and some of the players in the tea party movement; not as an attack, but as a reminder that wishing something doesn’t make it so.

The phrase “Tea Party” has a historical meaning

We’ve come to think of the Boston Tea Party as a tax protest, but in essence it was a protest against monopoly, as British tea (via India) was essentially dumped on the colonies.That said, tea and taxes have since become inextricably intertwined.  I recall news stories where protesters have sent tea bags to Washington D.C. multiple times since the 1980s over various tax outrages.  This is nothing new.  So a generic “tea party” label says little more about a movement or action than that tax protesting is involved.

Ron Paul’s Tea Party events occurred in 2007 as part of his 2008 Presidential Fundraising Campaign

The date chosen for the fundraising events in 2007 coincided with the Boston Tea Party anniversary.  The Paul campaign supporters even called their movement “The Ron Paul Revolution,”  in hopes, one guesses, to evoke the Founding Fathers.  (Given that the communists loved the word “revolution” in the Twentieth Century, much more recent in memory, perhaps not the best choice)  But Brooks Bayne, one of the original founders of the current movement, explains it this way: “A ‘Tea PartyMoney Bomb’ does not equal the modern tea party movement.”

He’s right.  The original nationwide tea parties in February 2009 effectively took the pulse of the cities in which they occurred.  Organized in just a few days, with microscopic budgets and promoted usually only by social media and word-of-mouth, these groups gathered thousands of people in 50 cities across the country; not to raise funds, but to raise their voices.  Fundraising, if done at all, was an afterthought; buckets and jars set out to help organizers defray the cost of  the venue.  And at these early rallies, asking for funds for a politician, any politician, after the TARP-Auto-Industry-violate-free-market-principles-to-save-the-free-market-system-bailout mess might have ended up with a very unpleasant reaction from the crowd.

Ron Paul’s supporters did not organize the original nationwide events

After Rick Santelli’s historic rant on CNBC sparked nationwide attention on February 19, 2009, the Top Conservatives On Twitter community began to rally immediately to go into action.  Brooks recalls the initial daily planning conference calls leading up to the first coordinated event.  “Most of the organizers on the calls were first-principle conservatives” he says, noting that there was only one avowed libertarian present for the calls.  Many were disaffected Republicans who didn’t believe there was an effective party structure with which to fight the progressive agenda.  Others were conservatives who didn’t feel at home in any party structure.  All felt the urgency that the fight needed to be joined.  None of them ever mentioned Ron Paul.

The tea party phenomenon blossomed into something none of us on those calls were able to anticipate; from huge Tax Day rallies nationwide to a massive march on Washington D.C. to tectonic electoral shifts in 2010.  It’s understandable that some politician would like to get some of the credit for kicking it off.  But the leaderless, agile, principle-driven movement that is tea party succeeds precisely because it has no “father figure” out in front, in spite of media attempts to stuff everyone from Dick Armey to Ron Paul to Newt Gingrich to Sarah Palin in that role.  Tea party has been able to navigate the rough waters of the past two years in spite of every effort to anchor it to a personality.

And that has been deliberate from the very first day.

So far, no one has been able to replicate the success of the tea party, or reproduce its energy, for that matter.  Not Ron Paul. Not Newt.  Not the RNC.  And certainly not the Coffee Party or the No Labels gang, much as they would like to.

Do tea party people believe in some of the ideals that Ron Paul espouses?  Certainly.  In some of the principles he has run on?  Of course. But claiming that he founded the tea party movement, or that somehow all tea party people intend to vote for Paul in the presidential primary, is not only absurd, but shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the political landscape.

Felicia Cravens organized the Houston Tea Party on February 27, 2009, and has been a leader of that organization over the subsequent two years. She can be reached on Twitter at @somethingfishie

Newt Gingrich Proves He’s a RINO on Meet the Press


The smartest guy in the room just lost a couple dozen conservative IQ points.

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich came out in “qualified” favor of Obamacare’s forced mandate to purchase health care insurance and in opposition to Paul Ryan’s financially prudent plan to cut Medicare.

As I pointed out in this space Friday, Newt Gingrich is not a tea party guy. Newt has just made his entire campaign irrelevant by confirming exactly the kind of guy he is. His stunning rejection of Constitutional principles (the Constitution does not allow the federal government to force us to buy a product or service) by apparently accepting the premise of Obamacare puts his October 2009 endorsement of RINO Dede Scozzafava in a new light. At the time, I thought that the former speaker had just failed to do his homework on Scozzafava. Now, however, it appears more likely than not he agreed with her on policy matters!

We don’t need a Voices of the Tea Party e-book rating the Presidential candidates to discern that truth. Save us all another year of your excruciatingly dull lectures, Newt, and withdraw from the race now.

You’ll never be President.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and  co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, The Covenant of Liberty, on the ideological origins of the Tea Party movement, will be published by Broadside Books in January, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Newt Gingrich is Not a Tea Party Guy


Wednesday, in the least suspenseful press conference of the political season, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for President. Gingrich’s announcement, which was greeted across the country with a loud yawn, points again to the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the 2012 Presidential contenders, as Jon Friesch and Conrad Larson have suggested in this space previously.

Lacking such a guide currently, I’ll offer my own view of Gingrich’s candidacy from a tea party perspective. Despite his best efforts to associate with the movement for well over two years, Gingrich is not a tea party guy.  He deserves credit for volunteering early on to co-sponsor the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party through his group, American Solutions.  But from a tea party perspective, it’s been all down hill since then for the former Speaker.

Who can forget his insistent and unapologetic endorsement of the famous RINO candidate, Dede Scozzafava, in New York’s 23rd Congressional District in the 2009 special election? Then, of course, there’s his continued support for ethanol subsidies, which even in Iowa does not ring true with tea party supporters who oppose giving tax subsidies to politically connected industries. And who can forget his unusual proclivity to join hands with such liberal icons as Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton in those dreadful “We Are the World” television commercials that promote the notions of man-caused global warming and advocate more Big Government in education?

Newt’s biggest problem with the Tea Party movement, however, is Newt Gingrich himself.

His natural style of speaking is the one-sided monologue, reflecting his training as a Phd. in History. The track record of the only president in American history to have a Phd.–Woodrow Wilson–was one of promoting Big Government and ignoring the Constitution. This does not recommend that particular professional background to those of us who support the limited government ethos.

Newt’s problem with us stylistically is that he wants everyone to know he’s the smartest guy in the room. When he appears before tea party groups, he simply doesn’t listen to views other than his own. He’ll temporarily stop talking while the other person speaks, but he doesn’t listen to what they’re saying. He’s merely tolerating their use of his time until he can demonstrate, when he reclaims the microphone, why the audience needs to hear his brilliant and unique “vision” for America.

I’ve seen Gingrich’s vision, and I’ve got some news for him. Many of us in the Tea Party movement are not all that interested in hearing it again, because it lacks consistency. We’ve heard enough lectures from Speaker Gingrich over the past decade. As for me, I can go well beyond November, 2012 without hearing another one. Others may have different views, but from this corner of the Tea Party movement, the message is loud and clear:

No thanks, Newt.


Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and the author of an upcoming book on the ideological origins of the Tea Party movement. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .