- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cynical pundits who insist that the tea party is dead or irrelevant must rethink their message now that Richard Mourdock publicly credited “thousands” of devoted tea party volunteers for ensuring his defeat of Sen. Richard G. Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary Tuesday. Declarations of the grass-roots movement’s demise appear premature.

Another case in point: The Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots — the nation’s largest umbrella organization for the movement — now numbers 3,500 local groups. The Patriots raised $12.2 million last year with a simple plea: “Many small voices turn into a loud roar.” Donors with modest amounts are determined to reach deep in their pockets once again in 2012, insiders say.

“There has been talk from the right and left saying that the tea party is dead, dying or on the sidelines. Our 990 proves this talk is nonsense,” the Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin tells Inside the Beltway, referring to the IRS tax form used by nonprofit organizations to report donations.

“Outside of Washington, there is a movement demanding a smaller, more fiscally sound limited government. We have gone from making their voices heard at rallies to training, organizing and engaging. America will continue to see the results of this engagement throughout the rest of 2012 — and for years to come,” she predicts.

“Richard Mourdock’s historic underdog victory is proof that grass-roots activists, armed with good ideas and hard work, can fundamentally change the Republican Party from the inside out,” observes FreedomWorks for America President Matt Kibbe.

THE ‘CLOSET’ HEADLINE

It was inevitable. How many news organizations used the headline “President Obama comes out of the closet on same-sex marriage” after the president went public about his support of same on Wednesday? Behold, a partial list:

MSNBC, New York magazine, Rush Limbaugh.com, and the San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Village Voice and Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

THE SAME-SEX EFFECT

Reckless or prudent, inclusive or alienating? It will be awhile before ever-evolving President Obama finds out whether his decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage proves a political bomb — or boon.

“While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that,” says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

“We are delighted that President Obama voiced his support for legalizing same-sex marriage. He spoke honestly and with conviction, showing us again the Barack Obama of 2008, the man of passion who won our hearts,” counters Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign, a progressive grass-roots group supporting marriage equality.

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“The trouble with Hooker is he’s got his headquarters where his hindquarters ought to be.”

Abraham Lincoln on U.S. Army Gen. “Fighting Joe” Hooker, 1863, after the general bragged that his headquarters would be in the saddle on the battlefield.

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