Michele Bachmann Rolls Out House Tea Party Caucus
Michele Bachmann joined Greta Van Susteren to discuss her new Tea Party Caucus in the House and as they noted over at TPM, it looks like things aren't going so well already.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann's (R-MN) House Tea Party Caucus debut yesterday mimicked the tea party movement it hopes to represent in Washington -- it was confusing, bumbling and offered a dearth of solid policy goals.
Bachmann says the caucus aims to be a "receptacle" in Washington D.C. for the tea party's frustration with spending, taxes, socialism and, uh, billboard design. But if the caucus' first day is any impression, Bachmann's group will also mirror the amateurish political organizing of the movement. [...]
As David Frum's blog reported all day yesterday, Bachmann's caucus list was about as good an example of a poorly-run organization as you can find this week, save for the Department of Agriculture. The Tea Party Caucus list changed throughout the day, with names disappearing and reappearing as reporters called to verify things. The list itself disappeared from Bachmann's website for a time, before finally showing up again and staying up for good.
One Capitol Hill Republican with knowledge of the process told me the embarrassing debacle of the list was a 100% Bachmann affair -- the caucus list is run out of her office and its errors were, as far as my source knew, thanks to Bachmann's staff. Read on...
And as Steve Benen noted:
There's been ample evidence of late that the overlap between the so-called Tea Party "movement" and the Republican Party's far-right base is overwhelming. They are, in effect, one and the same.
The intersection of Tea Party politics and Republican politics became even more dramatic yesterday, with the formal launch of the House Tea Party Caucus, led by frightening right-wing Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R). Dana Milbank had a good report on the kickoff event. [...]
As for the caucus itself, as of late yesterday, the House Tea Party Caucus reportedly has 29 members, with a membership list that's nearly identical to that of the right-wing Republican Study Committee. There is, however, some ongoing controversy on this front -- some of the members included on Bachmann's list of caucus members hadn't formally given their permission to be included in the group.
Sounds like they're off to a good start.
Yeah. But Bachmann does her best to convince Greta just how bipartisan this new caucus is and that they welcome Democrats who would like to join and she claims they've got one Democrat who wants to join, but of course she can't give her name yet. I'll believe that one when I see it but if they do have one it's just going to be another Blue Dog that may as well have an "R" behind his name already. Bachmann also called her new right wing group "pretty mainstream". Yeah Michele, you betcha' it is!
And if there's any doubt about what this wingnut and the Republicans would do if they get the House back this year, here's more from TPM Muckraker as well.
Endless hearings... was there ever any doubt? Maybe two years of watching witch hunts from these McCarthyites would be enough to horrify the public so the Republicans finally go the way of the Know Nothings, but our country really can't take that right now with the shape the economy is in.
Transcript below the fold.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, some members of Congress are bringing the tea party to Capitol Hill! Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is here. She founded the brand-new Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. So what's the caucus going to do? Congresswoman Bachmann joins us live. Good evening.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Thank you, Greta. Nice to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so what provoked this?
BACHMANN: Well, I think it's because it's really the movement that has happened the last 18 months, where people -- hundreds of thousands of people across the country have gotten up off the couch and have said, We want to do something about what's happening in our country. And people have tried to get Congress's attention. They feel like they haven't. And so now this is about members of Congress really listening to people in the tea party. And that's what we are. We're not the mouthpiece, we're the earpiece. And so we're members of Congress listening to what people are trying to tell us.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, a lot of the viewers hear this term "caucus" all the time. I mean, there's all sorts of caucuses. What is the caucus? I mean, what's the function of a caucus?
BACHMANN: Well, it's members of Congress gathering around one central idea or subject, like...
VAN SUSTEREN: Give me an idea. Give me some...
BACHMANN: We have the Shellfish Caucus.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
BACHMANN: We have the Potato Caucus. We have the Biker Caucus, the Boat Caucus. We have all sorts of different caucuses, the Med Tech (ph) Caucus in Minnesota. I'm a part of that caucus.
But this is -- we think that the tea party has credible ideas and things to listen to. And it's really basic. It's the fact that we don't think that government should spend more than what it takes in. We believe we're taxed enough already and that Congress needs to act within its constitutional limitations.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, is that sort of beyond sort of the Republican ideology, though, because -- and -- and let me ask this question. Do any have members of the leadership, like -- like Congressman -- Leader Boehner or whip Eric Cantor? Are either one of those going to join the caucus?
VAN SUSTEREN: The Tea Party Caucus.
BACHMANN: We have three members of leadership. Leader Boehner doesn't join any caucuses at all. And I spoke with Representative Cantor. He was very supportive of what we're doing, and Tom Price, who's the head of the RSC, is in, Mike Pence, the head of the GOP conference...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... saying I betcha. You betcha.
BACHMANN: You betcha.
VAN SUSTEREN: You betcha.
BACHMANN: You betcha.
BACHMANN: Yes, that's right, because he understands.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a Minnesota phrase or is that a Governor Sarah Palin phrase?
BACHMANN: Minnesota, Wisconsin, something like that, Alaska...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... Alaska.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, is there any sort of -- have the Democrats said anything about the fact that you're forming a Tea Party Caucus or had any sort of opposition to it?
BACHMANN: Well, the first letter I wrote was to Speaker Pelosi to invite her to be part of the caucus. I hope she will.
VAN SUSTEREN: She's not going to!
BACHMANN: Well, I hope so.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you really think she's going to?
BACHMANN: Well, I'm hoping. The last person I spoke to yesterday in Congress was a Democrat, a male.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who's that?
BACHMANN: Well, I can't say his name because he hasn't joined yet. But he told me that he's very interested and he thinks he will. We had our first meeting...
VAN SUSTEREN: Will you tell us first?
BACHMANN: We'll tell you first.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right.
BACHMANN: We have 35 members of Congress, though, that have joined, and we just got approved on Monday. So this is really taking off. Twenty- four members of Congress met this morning for our opening meeting. We had a dozen real people come. And we 24 sat on chairs and we listened to 12 real people talk to us about their concerns.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How is, you know, the principles that you espouse for this caucus different from the Republican Party?
BACHMANN: Well, the Republican Party I think is about a lot of different issues. I think these issues really don't have to be Republican or Democrat. This is meant to be a bipartisan caucus. I mean, the idea of the fact that we're taxed enough already and the fact that we shouldn't spend more than what we take in and live within the Constitution -- that's pretty mainstream. And there's Democrats that feel that way, too. So we want to invite -- in fact, people who came today to speak to us, some voted for President Obama. But they're very nervous about what they've seen, and that's why they wanted to come to speak to members of Congress.