Opinion: Perry Has Disrupted Bachmann, Romney Ties to Tea Party

According to the Washington Times, 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s appearance at an upcoming Tea Party rally this weekend is creating a rift between different arms of the grass-roots movement, with one side arguing Romney “is an establishment hack posing as an outsider.”

FreedomWorks, the organization chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, announced Wednesday that it plans to counter Romney ’s scheduled participation Sunday in a Tea Party Express event in Concord, N.H., with a protest dedicated to telling the “real story about the Republican’s record.”

This is but one of many signs of internal strife going in the Tea Party - largely stemming from the lack of a clear leader and the many outrageous statements coming from spokespeople for those groups. 

The Tea Party Romney plans to attend in New Hampshire will also include Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Atlanta businessman Herman Cain, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.

My sources in Texas tell me the Tea Party there, or at least at the Dallas branch, hates Rick Perry. This week there were rumors they were sending a "truth squad" to inform Iowa Tea Partiers that Perry is not genuine, not a “real” conservative, and is not the candidate they should be backing.

In Iowa, Michelle Bachmann has a good ground war going (organization for all 99 counties and the caucus precincts), which will be important for the Iowa Caucuses in February. The buzz is that Perry is a flyover or “flyby” candidate who has come to Iowa, on the margins of real events but is way behind Bachmann and Ron Paul in organization.

The Tea Party and Perry in particular scare older voters in Iowa (one of the oldest voter states in the country) with their attacks on Social Security and Medicare.

I remind the media every day that there is no one Tea Party, and they have no formal political party structure or candidates. They are a movement and as such they are fluid, unpredictable, and very subject to the whims of small factions.

Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy (also Coastal Zone Management) at Iowa State University, affiliate Nova Oceanographic Center, author of 11 books, 40 years analyzing the Iowa Caucuses, Des Moines Register blogger, CNN en Español analyst and commentator and Associate Editor of Insider Iowa