- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
- Obama ‘birther’ theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- U.S. drone faulted for killing 14 ‘innocent civilians’ at Yemen wedding
- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
Finally, Romney gets tea party support
FreedomWorks drops opposition
The organization that ignited the tea party as a national mass movement gave Mitt Romney perhaps his biggest victory yet, deciding to drop its opposition to his candidacy, a top executive in the group told The Washington Times.
FreedomWorks, which organized the Sept. 12, 2009, mass demonstration on the Mall, says that while it will not give an explicit endorsement, the time has come for Republicans to unite around the former Massachusetts governor and focus on defeating President Obama.
“It is a statistical fact that the numbers favor Mitt Romney,” FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker told The Times on Tuesday. “We are dedicated to defeating Obama and electing a conservative Senate that will help Romney repeal Obamacare and address the nation’s economic and spending challenges.”
Exit polls in Illinois showed Mr. Romney won among those who said they support the tea party movement, edging out Mr. Santorum 43 percent to 37 percent [-] the same margin as Mr. Romney won those who were neutral on the tea party.
The Illinois results marked an improvement for Mr. Romney. In Ohio, Mr. Santorum had won tea party supporters, and the two men had essentially tied among tea partyers in Michigan. In each of those states, somewhere between 52 percent and 59 percent of primary voters said they either “strongly” or “somewhat” support the movement.
None of the four candidates remaining in the 2012 Republican nomination battle started out on FreedomWorks’ most-wanted list, and Mr. Walker’s organization, which had tried to derail Mr. Romney’s nomination effort, isn’t telling any tea partyer explicitly to vote for any candidate in particular.
The tea party is a “leaderless movement, so it will be up to individuals to decide when and where they put their support,” Mr. Walker said.
The former congressman from Texas, who is FreedomWorks’ chairman, had a list of names that could excite his organization, but none decided to join the fray.
“As long as a year ago Dick Armey privately and publicly encouraged [Indiana Rep.] Mike Pence, [South Carolina Sen.] Jim DeMint, [Wisconsin Rep.] Paul Ryan and [Indiana Gov.] Mitch Daniels to run for the presidential nomination,” Mr. Walker said. “We take direction from our members who early in the primary asked us to not to back any one candidate.”
For example, FreedomWorks organized a protest in August among its grass-roots members against Mr. Romney’s addressing a Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire. He also alienated FreedomWorks by, among other things, supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program during the Bush administration.
The change also reflects the desire of local FreedomWorks chapters to refocus the nomination contest on economic issues such as jobs, gasoline prices, spending, debt and the federal budget deficit. Some key Illinois conservatives also see Mr. Santorum’s focus on social issues such as homosexuality and religious objections to contraception as a distraction.
“Santorum has spent a great deal of time here talking about social issues,” said Demetra DeMonte, the national secretary of Republican National Committee and a member from Illinois. “This would explain Romney’s performance among tea parties today in Illinois.”
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About the Author
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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