Dick Armey, founder of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, and a former House GOP leader, speaks at a Tea Party rally in Washington, April 15, 2010.
Dick Armey, founder of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, and a former House GOP leader, speaks at a Tea Party rally in Washington, April 15, 2010. Jacquelyn Martin/AP
If Mitt Romney wins the Republican 2012 presidential nomination, it's evidently going to be despite the best efforts of many members of the Tea Party movement.
Huffington Post reporter Jon Ward writes that officials at FreedomWorks, one of the best known Tea Party groups, say they plan to oppose Romney and that activists around the nation indicate they will do the same. An excerpt:
Interviews with top officials at FreedomWorks, a Washington-based organizing hub for Tea Party activists around the country, revealed that much of their thinking about the 2012 election revolves around derailing the former Massachusetts governor.
"Romney has a record and we don't really like it that much," said Adam Brandon, the group's communications director.
And then there's this:
Brendan Steinhauser, who travels around the country meeting with activists as FreedomWorks' top liaison to the grassroots, said most people he talks to are "definitely trying to stop Romney."
"I don't think I've met any groups or any local activists that like him or want him to be president," Steinhauser said. "They just don't believe he's authentic. That's the biggest problem in addition to the health care thing."
Romney's signing of Massachusetts' health care law when he was governor there, with its individual mandate that served as a model for the federal law, has made him unacceptable to many Republicans.
As Ward goes on to write, the thinking is that Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, could be the anti-Romney candidate though there are questions about T-Paw's ability to consolidate Republicans behind him.
As so many have noted, what continues to make all of this so interesting is how much of a departure it is from past GOP practice where the candidate who was next in line for the nomination generally got it without too much fuss as the party coalesced around the frontrunner.
Republicans are looking much more like Democrats this time out. And while it's still too early to know, it could be that the nomination process for Republicans in 2012 could be as noisy and fractious in its way as it was for Democrats in 2008.
The 2008 battle between senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton actually made the then-U.S. senator from Illinois a better general election candidate. It's possible that if Romney gets past all the opposition in his own party to win the nomination, he'll be a stronger candidate, too, than he would have been if he had a cakewalk.
But he also could be so softened up by many months of attacks as to be a much more vulnerable target for Obama.
For many in the Tea Party movement who dislike Romney, that's obviously a risk they feel is well worth taking.