Has the tea party ‘sold out’ to the mainstream GOP?

Since its birth three years ago, tea party activists have railed against compromise, leaned on lawmakers, launched RINO hunts against moderates deemed “Republicans in Name Only” and sought swift action on their ideas of reduced government spending, lower taxes and increased adherence to the constitution.

Tea party activist William Temple attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday in Washington.

Is the tea party changing the Republican Party from the inside — or selling out to the GOP?

As Republicans prepare to officially roll out Mitt Romney as their party’s presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention this week, major tea party groups and figures have descended on Tampa, Florida, to schmooze with party bigwigs and rally for Romney.

But Romney’s conservative credentials have long been viewed with suspicion by the movement. So it came as a surprise when, before at least one event, tea party organizers committed what some activists would consider heresy: seeking approval from establishment Republicans to rally.

All of it has opened up a once unthinkable charge: the movement that’s rabble-roused and rocked the GOP establishment since 2009 is now too cozy with it.

“The top national groups have already sold out,” said Judd Saul, a prominent Iowa activist associated with the Cedar Valley Tea Party. “They don’t truly represent the grassroots.”

“Even before the caucuses, these guys were all pushing for Romney even when the primaries were going on,” Saul added.

“It’s a pretty widespread (sentiment). A lot of activists have noticed that.”


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