Mitt Romney, a candidate who appears to many as a kind of caricature of Republicans (which is not entirely out if line with his storied past as a recovering progressive), is not far-right enough, according to some Tea Party groups. And he’d better get in step!
While Romney caucuses with the right on issues such as gay marriage, the birth control debate, Bush-era tax cuts and abortion, he’s still a bit too liberal for Tea Party tastes. According to ABC, the Tea Party — “emboldened” by a recent surprise win against an established opponent in Texas — are hoping to force Mitt even further to the right as the election approaches.
Andrea Shell is a spokeswoman for Tea Party group FreedomWorks, and Shell says:
“These [recently elected candidates from the Tea Party] are going to force Romney to the right… That is our entire mission.”
The group is not known for bipartisan compromise, and Shell explains that the group plans to apply pressure to Romney should he be elected:
“If we can elect a really conservative House and Senate that will force Romney to go along with our bold conservative agenda… He’s going to have to really, really go to the right. He’ll be working with guys in the House and Senate. He won’t be able to get away with too many middle of the road policies, especially on things like the deficit.”
It seems Republicans in general may be viewing Romney as a tool for the party and little else, and the news organization refers to recent comments Norman Orenstein, a researcher at the conservative think tank AEI made to ABC:
“It’s not going to be a Romney driven presidency… It’s going to be a Congressional, conservative, Republican driven presidency from Congress.”
But the Tea Party may not have to push too far to get Romney on board, says former adversary Newt Gingrich. Gingrich explains that the agendas of the Tea Party and Mitt Romney are nearly identical, and that the former will probably be pleased with Romney’s promised plan to move forward:
“If the Tea Party says it wants Romney to move right, I think, that’s were Romney is going anyway,” Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and presidential candidate, told ABCNews.com.
“Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget plan, opposed tax increases, and indicated he supports the full repeal of Obamacare. That’s a pretty activist opening day… You have to think of Romney as having a foot in the Tea Party and a foot in the establishment… that’s right where the Republicans want him.”
FreedomWorks, the group that expressed a wish to “force” Romney to the right, has been linked in the past with controversial conservative donors the Koch brothers, and the group has come in for no small amount of criticism for “astroturfing” — a term that refers to a planted “grassroots” movement.