Despite calling the Tea Party movement “the best thing that’s happened to the Republican Party in recent times”, Bill Kristol does his best to try to downplay the anger coming from the tea baggers and the crowd at CPAC and to downplay the results of the straw poll at CPAC as well. Heaven forbid the Republican Party is viewed as the party of racists instead of just “sensible” “mainstream” war mongering neocons like Bill Kristol and his ilk.
Kristol: The Tea Parties are the best thing that’s happened to the Republican Party in recent times. People are kidding, I mean the left can spin it every which way—of course potentially it will be somewhat divisive—you get a lot of new people… you get a lot of new people into the party, they want to have primary challenges.
I remember Republican Senator (inaudible) fretting to me—Marco Rubio is going to challenge Charlie Crist. He’s going to divert resources—we need to have Crist as the candidate. Crist is unpopular. Rubio is going to win the primary and Rubio is going to win the general election. Look at what happened in Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey—the empirical evidence is—one year ago Rick Santelli on CNBC went into that rant and said we need to have a tea party—as I said that was one of the best things to happen to conservatives and Republicans in recent times.
It mobilized not just conservatives but a lot of independents. Now you get a lot of new people in the party, some of them are a little whacky, they don’t follow the leadership. But that’s fine too. They’ll be a big rift during the primary.
Wallace: And what do you make of Ron Paul and the straw poll?
Kristol: Not much. I mean more than half of the people at CPAC were under age 25. They’re nice kids. They’re college kids. They get enthusiastic for Ron Paul. I don’t think that’s where the Republican primary electorate is. Let’s see what happens at the actual Republican primaries. I think we’re going to have a lot vigorous candidates—some of them contested, very few. And the main thing about the Tea Parties which I’ve watched fairly closely—the spirit of the Tea Parties is not the spirit of Ron Paul. It’s not the spirit of Pat Buchanan. It’s not the spirit of Lou Dobbs. It is a mainstream, Libertarian conservative, cut spending, the debt is unsustainable message. If you go to ContractFromAmerica which is the main Tea Party if there is one, agenda which they’ve got listed up there—mainstream Libertarian conservative agenda.