Tea Party Says 'Don't Write Our Obit Just Yet'

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BEAUMONT, Texas -- Is the Tea Party dead? Certain politicians say yes and the mainstream media has written the obituary.

The predictions began soon after Election night 2012.

CNN declared the "end of the Tea Party movement," and the Washington Post exclaimed how the movement "will soon be nothing more than a blip in the country's collective memory."

Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney's loss to President Obama, combined with a few Tea Party stumbles, led to a perception that the movement was comprised of a bunch of ultra-conservatives who cost Republicans congressional seats.

Within the GOP establishment, they're seen as a nuisance that just won't compromise.

"That's the same 40-50 chuckleheads that all year… have screwed this place up," Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, said.

Now, GOP guru Karl Rove could be looking to put a nail in the coffin, too.

His new political action committee, the Conservative Victory Project, will be backing electable candidates during GOP primaries in 2014.

The Tea Party reads the word "electable" as code for squishy, moderate Republicans and that has them seeing red.

"So here's a project funded by crony capitalists, funded by corporatists who are not conservative," Radio talk show host Mark Levin charged.

Much like Mark Twain, the Tea Party said reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. While polls show Tea Party identification dropping from 24 percent in 2010 to just 8 percent today, there have been key wins.

Newly minted Sens. Ted Cruz and Deb Fischer joined a growing constitutional conservative group made up of Sens. Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Tim Scott, and Rand Paul.

In the House, more than 50 Tea Party members make up a strong voting bloc. Ultimately, Tea Party leaders say the key to a sustainable national movement is electing House and Senate candidates who are ready for prime time.

Julie Turner, president of the Texas Patriots, said the way to keep the movement on track is by grooming candidates on the local level and growing a bench of all-stars.

"We require our candidates for endorsement to have a path to victory in their campaign," Turner told CBN News.

"It became clear to us that what we needed to do was build kind of a farm team. Start at the easiest elections, bring people into our weekly meetings," she said.

In San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo has come to represent the ultimate sacrifice in freedom. And that's exactly the way the Tea Party sees themselves: as "Freedom Warriors."

And so when everybody talks about whether or not the Tea Party is dead, well here in Texas it's anything but.

The Tea Party kept a serious presence in the state capital, convincing lawmakers to rein in spending. In places like Beaumont and many other cities, Tea Party members meet each week to plot strategy.

"A lot of people would like to see us give up, but that's not going to happen," Tea Party member Gene Koch said.

Another Tea Party member, Billy Oliver agreed, saying, "No, the Tea Party isn't dead. I think they're resting."

Much like their GOP counterparts, image is a problem. Since the media has turned the Tea Party into a four-letter word, conservative bloggers suggested a four-part strategy: rebrand, retool, recruit, and re-engage.

"This is generational. It started with the founding of this country. It will always happen. Our name will change, the faces will change, the principles will not."

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent

David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.