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.
"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.
What's this? The British Department of Health has issued a new policy recommending public officials not use the word "obese" when describing chubby children. Will Cavendish, director of health and well-being within the office, frets the term is a "turnoff" for parents.
Nonsense, says Tam Fry, board member of Britain's National Obesity Forum, who condemns such hypersensitivity and recommends that "obese" remain in the public lexicon.
"It's a nasty word, but, by God, it should sound alarm bells in parents' minds. I find this whole approach from the Department of Health a bit prissy," she tells the Daily Mail, a British newspaper. "The Americans have gone back to using the term because it's the kind of shock word that makes parents sit up and take notice."
Lucky the candidates have another six months before voters step into the polling booth. Despite all the media hubbub following President Obama's revelations about same-sex marriage, it's been a sluggish campaign in recent weeks for him and Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, say American Enterprise Institute analysts, who based their conclusions on a dozen timely political polls.
"President Obama does well or is competitive on some issues that have been traditional Republican strengths, such as foreign policy and taxes. Romney does better than Obama on handling energy and gas prices. Though voters hold significant doubts about both men, most troubling for Romney is that nearly 7 in 10 say they are only somewhat or not at all confident that he has the right set of goals and policies", note Karlyn Bowman, Andrew Rugg and Jennifer Marsico in their analysis.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden's favorability rating (42 percent) lags the president's (45 percent). Ann Romney isn't well known at this early stage of the campaign, while Michelle Obama is a formidable asset for her husband, with 60 percent rating her favorably.
Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney by large margins as someone better able to address women's issues. A CBS/New York Times poll, however, finds only 6 percent of women say women's health issues will be the most important factor in their vote.
POLL DU JOUR
• 91 percent of military family members say the most important reason to join the military is "to serve the country."
• 89 percent are registered to vote.
• 82 percent think that the all-volunteer force works.
• 81 percent volunteer in their community.
• 73 percent support their family service member's continued military service.
• 70 percent are satisfied with the military lifestyle.
• 60 percent would advise young people to join the military.
Source: The Blue Star Families "2012 Military Family Lifestyle Survey" of 2,891 family members of active-duty personnel, conducted Nov. 4 to Dec. 12 and released Tuesday.
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