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A strategic alliance of note, and it’s all lovey-dovey. CNN and the Tea Party Express will co-host a primary debate for Republican presidential candidates over Labor Day next year, sparring in Tampa, Fla., site of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

“Over the past two years, the American people have engaged in the political process like no other time in history. The Tea Party movement continues to grow and will play an even greater role in the 2012 elections,” says Amy Kremer, chairman of the exuberant group that staged several cross-country tours to support local candidates. “The debate will give presidential candidates an opportunity to focus on the issues near and dear to the tea party and our supporters across the country.”

The network, meanwhile, knows a potential audience when it sees one.

“The Tea Party Express is a fascinating, diverse, grass-roots force that already has drastically changed the country’s political landscape,” observes CNN political director Sam Feist.


- 77 percent of voters who call themselves “tea party” members say the new candidates they elected will “remain true to their beliefs.”

- 61 percent of voters with no family or friends in the tea party movement says those candidates “will become just like other politicians.”

- 21 percent say they will stick to their tea party beliefs; 18 percent are undecided.

- 46 percent of all likely voters says tea party candidates will become like other politicians.

- 34 percent say those candidates will maintain their beliefs; 20 percent are not sure.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Dec. 15 and 16.

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