Tea Party ‘Is Dead’: How the Movement Fizzled in 2012’s GOP Primaries

A giant killer in 2010, it never came off the sidelines in the 2012 primaries—and may end up with the nominee it loves least. Now a Tea Party leader tells Patricia Murphy the movement is “dead” and “gone.

It was the great wildcard going into the 2012 election cycle. Republican Party insiders openly worried the Tea Party might knock off the establishment presidential candidate, just as it knocked out establishment picks in the chaotic 2010 congressional races. Party heavyweights wondered whom the upstart movement would get behind and whether Mitt Romney could even get through the early states, given the once-raging Tea Party elements in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

In this Sept. 4, 2011 photo, Tea Party activists protest Mitt Romney, holding their own rally outside a Tea Party Express rally, where Romney appeared, in Concord, N.H.

But after months of wondering how the Tea Party would change the primary game, leaders inside the movement admit they never came in off the sidelines. For the Tea Party movement, the 2012 presidential primaries have been a bust.

“The Tea Party movement is dead. It’s gone,” says Chris Littleton, the cofounder of the Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of Tea Party groups in Ohio. “I think largely the Tea Party is irrelevant in the primaries. They aren’t passionate about any of the candidates, and if they are passionate, they’re for Ron Paul.”

Littleton is one of the many who have endorsed the Texas congressman; he blames the other GOP candidates for the lackluster energy they have generated in the grassroots that hosted a revolution two years ago.


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