Inside the Beltway: Tea party war drums

It’s no mere movement anymore as the political campaign escalates. The “tea party army” has emerged, and organizers are framing their activities in near dire terms. “If we are going to stop the Obama agenda in its tracks this fall, we need to train and equip a grass-roots army, the likes of which America has never seen. A tea party army,” says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest umbrella group for the cause.

“Our plan is quite ambitious — to mobilize thousands of ordinary Americans to help educate voters in the key states about the horrors of the Obama agenda. We are going to bring together people from all walks of life and teach them how to build local tea-party organizations and fight for limited government,” she continues, adding, “They need to go toe to toe with the liberal special interests and the labor unions this fall.”

SHIRT TALES

Yes, the We are the Future counterrally for Rep. Ron Paul is still scheduled in Tampa, a day before the Republican National Convention arrives to take over the known universe. The feisty fans of the Texas Republican are prepared with new T-shirts that read, “Republi(CAN) and “We are the future.” The $20 shirt already is becoming a collector’s item. “If you want one, you should act right away,” a spokesman advises. Have a look here: www.ronpaul2012.com

BATTLE O’ THE BUSES

Gentlemen, start your engines: Mitt Romney embarks on a four-day bus tour on Saturday, rolling through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio to share news of the “Romney plan for a stronger middle class,” a spokesman says.

It’s heartland-style campaigning with notable passengers en route. Gov. Bob McDonnell plus Sens. Rob Portman and Marco Rubio will join the tour in their respective states, convincing some observers that Mr. Romney’s announcement of his running mate won’t be this weekend.

The bodacious Romneymobile has competition. After parking its big, tacky motor coach outside Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, the Democratic National Committee departs Friday on its own tour. Its bus is emblazoned with mottos such as, “Middle class under the bus” and “Tax cuts for the rich,” among other things. Onboard: Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Vice Chairman R.T. Rybak, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver.

GIPPERVISION

Don’t be surprised to see the Gipper at the multiplex. Ronald Reagan returns to U.S. theaters this weekend in a new 30-second spot from Americans for Prosperity that features heroic images, historic film clips and a clear message: “Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom is the victor,” Reagan says in his unmistakable style.

“While movies like ‘The Campaign’ poke fun at the absurdities of politics, President Reagan offers a powerful reminder that economic freedom is the source of our prosperity. This ad is intended to inform Americans of all backgrounds and philosophical leanings about the importance of economic freedom,” observes the organization’s president, Tim Phillips.

A RETURN ON RETURNS

The Democratic quest to examine all of Mitt Romney’s tax returns continues like a broken record. Former senator and National Review contributor Fred Thompson says the Democrats seek a long, drawn-out fight and inevitable accusatory press, and he sides with Mr. Romney’s decision to put a limit on such demands.

“I’ve been encouraged by the strong stand he’s taken. I know that others who have his best interest at heart have advised him to succumb, while others have said he must have something to hide. I disagree with both notions,” Mr. Thompson observes. “I have released my share of tax returns when running for office, and while I might have advised him differently a year ago, now I say go all in. I would not give one inch to an outfit that accuses me of killing a worker’s wife. Tell them to go fly a kite. Tell them that when Obama releases his grades and Harry Reid releases his tax returns you might consider it. Have some fun. Talk about the fragile future of this country and its role in the world, and let Harry and the boys talk about anonymous sources and tax returns.”

Mr. Thompson adds, “Mitt may take some flak, but he will, anyway, no matter what he does. This year, especially, it’s the rich man’s burden. Embrace it and go on. There are bigger problems that a candidate could have. Like having led this country to the brink of second-rate status.”

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