The panel of David Gergen, Candy Crowley and John Avlon pretend like the astroturf teabaggers are not tied to the hip with the Republican/conservative
April 10, 2010

The panel of David Gergen, Candy Crowley and John Avlon pretend like the astroturf teabaggers are not tied to the hip with the Republican/conservative movement and that they're some sort of true grassroots uprising. As all of us know, that's not the truth since we've been following the movement since they first started with Fox News promoting them and corporate lobbyist groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity organizing many of these rallies.

Not to mention that their dear leaders like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are working for ClusterFox. Can anyone imagine Al Gore doing what Palin has done after he lost (or had it stolen from him rather) the presidential election, and the media calling his rallies "grassroots"? We already know they wouldn't. For that matter they'd never allow the Democratic establishment to get away with a scam like this.

Funny none of them could be bothered with mentioning how the Tea Party movement got started and who is sponsoring all of these buses we've seen running across the country. Buses CNN has been happy to embed themselves with and hype as well. Instead they're pretending as Candy Crowley said they're a group the Republicans "are going to have to deal with". Sorry Candy, but they're already "dealing with them".

As Dave already pointed out this is what the Tea Party is really all about.

[T]he Tea Party is fundamentally a way for conservatives to reclaim the reins of power while the brand-damaged Republican Party undergoes a right-wing makeover.

This is just one more example of CNN proving themselves to be Fox-lite and doing their best to help the GOP out as well.

COOPER: All right.

Let's get to the "Raw Politics" with senior political analyst David Gergen, Candy Crowley, and CNN contributor John Avlon.

David, how significant is this idea of forming a national grouping of Tea Party groups?

DAVID GERGEN: It's an important evolution, Anderson, in the history of this. We will see where it goes.

But, in the minds of many Americans, the Tea Party folks seem to be a fringe group. I think they're becoming -- it's becoming apparent this is more and more a nationwide protest, in many ways.

I was struck by two polls recently, a Rasmussen poll, that find that more Americans believe that the Tea Party is aligned with their values on policies than believe that President Obama is aligned with them. That's pretty interesting.

There's a Gallup poll out now that's saying about 28 percent of Americans believe that they -- you know, they're basically within the Tea Party overall effort, that they agree with the -- the -- what the Tea Party is trying to do.

So, we're seeing a group that is trying to become mainstream, that's making strides in that direction. And it -- the federation also reflects their frustration at what they feel has been media misrepresentations over a long period of time.

COOPER: And fair enough on that, and I include myself on that probably early on.

John Avlon, though, as they define themselves, do they risk perhaps losing some of that -- that growing support, as they start to endorse particular candidates, define themselves on social issues, on financial issues?

JOHN AVLON: Well, that is a line -- that is a line you walk.

What's interesting about this federation, it is an evolutionary step. It's a combination of grassroots groups and some more -- more foundational conservative movement groups that are all coming together, still loose, still really a press release federation.

But you're right. As they try to get more involved and play in Republican primaries, backing conservative candidates, already, you can see, with this declaration, they're trying to focus exclusively on fiscal issues, because that's the foundation. At its foundation, The Tea Party movement...

COOPER: Right.

AVLON: ... is about anger at spending.

But the social issues are still part of their coalition. So, they use language like constitutionally-limited government as a way of creating a big tent for that issue without addressing it directly.

COOPER: Now, Candy, you're down in New Orleans at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. What are you hearing? I mean, is -- is this the year of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, or is there resistance to that among -- among more establishment, you know, party candidates?


CANDY CROWLEY: None that I can find here, I have to tell you.

You heard Newt Gingrich tonight. While they didn't talk about Sarah Palin, who will be talking down here, they didn't talk about her from the podium, around in this group, she still remains a very electric candidate.

The Tea Party is something that Republicans simply know that they have to deal with. And what they're trying to do is embrace the ideals of the Tea Party, embrace the passion of the Tea Party member, without being linked to the excesses that are sometimes linked to the Tea Party, and not necessarily true.

So, you know, it is a fine line at times, but Republicans understand that a lot of the passion in politics right now is from the people who call themselves members of the Tea Party.

COOPER: And, David, how do you see Sarah Palin -- I mean, you know, she had a crowd of, what, was it 10,000 yesterday with -- with Michele Bachmann? There -- there are a few other Republican candidates who can get that kind of a crowd.

GERGEN: Well, that's absolutely right. And she's -- she's making tons of money on the lecture circuit, Anderson. You know, she gets heavily paid for these speeches. She's got a bunch of them scheduled this year. I continue to believe she's not going to be a candidate, but will be a force in Republican politics.

And one aspect of the Tea Party that we...


COOPER: Well, David, let me just jump in there.

GERGEN: Yes, go ahead.

COOPER: Why -- why wouldn't she be a candidate? I mean, I know it would obviously take away some of the earning power early on, but at least, by kind of staying in the -- in the mix, it sort of allows her to, you know, I mean, continue to kick up energy.

GERGEN: Well, you know, Anderson, when somebody resigns as governor before the term is -- long before the term is out, it does suggest, you know, they don't like governing all that much.

GERGEN: And she's having a whale of a good time out there now. She's got a major voice. She -- as you know, she has sold a ton of books. I think the she...

COOPER: Why mess it up with actually...


GERGEN: Well, what's the latest number on that?

COOPER: No, I was saying, why mess it up with actually running?


GERGEN: Well, that's right. And, you know, all the polls suggest she would have a very hard time winning.

But what I do think -- and Candy and John can speak to this -- is, to what degree are the Tea Party folks and Sarah Palin pulling the other candidates to the right, other Republicans?


And, John, you actually think she will be a candidate.

AVLON: I -- I do Sarah Palin will be a candidate. I think she's given herself a long runway, in effect, towards a 2012 run.

It's important to understand that she's no longer just the most polarizing figure in American politics. At this point, some of the polls show her national approval ratings at around 26 percent. But her approval rating among conservatives and Republicans is astronomical.

How much her supporters love her at this point should not be underestimated. And it might be enough to win a nomination, or at least make a nomination competitive. But, certainly, when you get in a general election, it becomes a serious, serious deficit.

So, that's one of the tensions that the Republican Party has got to work out.

COOPER: And, Candy, to David's question about the impact of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement on some of these other candidates, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, I mean, is it pulling them in a direction?


I mean, we have already seen this happen, with Tim Pawlenty pretty much considered to be a moderate, not always in line with some of the things that Palin says, certainly not seen as a conservative on the -- on the, you know, outer right wing of the party, he's out there. They need to embrace her.

On the other point that you're talking about, I -- I talked to someone tonight, Anderson, who said: I don't think she will run for president. I don't think she wants to be king. I think she wants to be a kingmaker.

And when you can draw those sorts of crowds, 10,000 people in April, before a November election, that pretty much does help make you a kingmaker.

She, meanwhile, can be raking in all this money with TV shows and books. And it's a safe place for her to be, because she doesn't have to be out there doing the interviews and talking policy. She can say what she wants without being challenged...

COOPER: Right.

CROWLEY: ... in most of the positions she's in, and, yet, draw in all those forces.

COOPER: John, you were talking about the Tea Party movement and social issues.


COOPER: They -- they have been now campaigning today against Congressman Bart Stupak for his vote...


COOPER: ... his switched vote on -- on health care reform.

I want to play something from what we heard today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you guys hear about that retirement party we had for Harry Reid last week?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We think Bart Stupak should join him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we are going to -- we invited Congressman Stupak to our Tea Party rallies over the next couple of days, and he has not RSVPed to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Is he here? Bart? Bart? Bart? You here, Bart? Bart?

No, he's not here.


COOPER: So, you do see on social issues, like abortion, they're clearly -- some group, at least, that is bringing that up.

AVLON: Sure.

I mean, You know, if Stupak had actually ultimately not voted for it -- and he was going back and forth -- well, of course, he would be a hero to these folks. And the issue for him was the abortion provision in the health care bill.

But the overall anger at the health care bill was not about that provision. It was about stopping what those folks see as a big- government -- big-government scheme. But the fissures here are significant.

They're -- you know, they're trying to take a big step back and say, look, this is primarily about fiscal issues. But the danger is, you know, whenever that dose of Obama derangement syndrome sneaks in, or whenever some of the more -- rhetoric gets really excessive, that ends up being really a negative, and alienates the independent voters that the Tea Party needs to really become a broader movement.

COOPER: Interesting.

John Avlon, David Gergen, Candy Crowley, thanks. Appreciate it.

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