The Washington Times - June 8, 2011, 11:35AM

The co-founders of one of the largest tea party groups in the nation dismissed a recent claim from a former leader of the group that members of the grass-roots movement will rally behind whoever wins the Republican nomination — “even if that person is former Gov. Mitt Romney.”

Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, leaders of Tea Party Patriots (TPP), pushed back against Tea Party Express leader Amy Kremer for suggesting on Fox News over the weekend that the movement will support whichever Republican goes up against President Obama.


“A pledge of allegiance to the Republican Party, or any other party, violates what the tea party movement is all about and is completely out of touch with grassroots Americans,” Ms. Martin said in an email blast. “The tea party movement grew out of disillusionment with both political parties who have rejected the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional government and the free market. We are independent and will remain so.”

Mr. Meckler said that “we’ve heard little support for Romney in the movement as we interact daily with local coordinators and activists.”

“We believe it’s premature to say whether anyone would support him if he were the nominee, and anyone who says that tea partyers would support him is certainly not speaking for the movement at large,” he said.

Speaking on Fox News Saturday, Ms. Kremer said, “Whoever the Republican nominee is will have to have the support of the tea party movement, the entire tea party movement.”

The two groups have engaged in a civil war before. TPP removed Ms. Kremer from her leadership position with the group in 2009 and filed a lawsuit seeking to force her to stop using the group’s name and to turn over control and passwords to email lists, websites and social networking sites.

Ms. Kremer’s comments also appear out of sync with FreedomWorks, the tea party group led by former House Majority Leader Dick Army, which expressed strong doubts about Mr. Romney’s candidacy.