Is the Tea Party over?
April 23rd, 2012
03:55 PM ET

Is the Tea Party over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The party might be over - the Tea Party that is.

The movement that took the country - and Washington - by storm two years ago appears to be fading.

In the early days of the Obama Administration, the Tea Party seemed to spring up almost overnight nationwide.

With thousands of dissatisfied Americans attending town hall meetings and protesting an outsized federal government, higher taxes, skyrocketing federal spending and Obamacare.

In the 2010 mid-term elections, candidates connected to the Tea Party helped the Republicans wrestle back control of the House of Representatives. They were a force to be reckoned with.

But fast forward two years and what's left?

For starters, the Republican Party is on the verge of nominating Mitt Romney. Not exactly a right wing zealot.

Politico reports that a meeting of the Republican National Command this past weekend shows just how little has actually changed within the GOP.

Few Tea Party activists have won slots on the Republican Party's governing committee, even though some have won county chairmanships or state positions.

And, although the Republican establishment sympathizes with the Tea Party's ideas and wants to channel their energy, they see the movement as just one more constituency in the Republican coalition.

Some Republicans describe the Tea Party activists as inexperienced, and the movement as not as well organized as 2010.

Nonetheless, even if the Tea Party is losing power, it's still seen as a boost for Republicans. One state party chairman says the Tea Party has "put a spring in the step of the old lumbering elephant."

Here’s my question to you: Is the Tea Party over?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Tea Party
Tea Party effect on 2012 elections?
August 23rd, 2011
01:01 PM ET

Tea Party effect on 2012 elections?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The national debt is increasing by an astounding $3 million a minute; $3 million. Meanwhile, President Obama and Congress are on vacation.

When the president took office in January 2009, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. Less than three years later, it's $14.6 trillion.

Obama has presided over the fastest, largest increase in the national debt in our country's history, something to be truly proud of.

Under President George W. Bush, the national debt increased by $4.9 trillion, but it took eight years to increase that much.

Obama has the distinction of putting us an additional $4 trillion in the hole in less than three years. And he's still talking about wanting to spend more. It's insane. These rates of borrowing are unsustainable. It is far and away the biggest problem we may have ever been faced with. Eventually, our country's survival will be at stake.

And whether anyone likes it or not, the tea party seems to be the only group that gets it. The group became a force during the midterm elections because of the growing national debt and the refusal of Washington to do anything about it.

In fact, the recent debt ceiling standoff was driven by a group of only 60 tea party members in the House of Representatives.

You can bet that the tea party will continue to ring the alarm bells as we head into the 2012 elections - and it should.

Because just remember this: In the time it would take you to listen to this Cafferty File segment - a minute and a half or so - our national debt increased by more than $5 million.

Here’s my question to you: What effect will the tea party have on the 2012 elections?

Tune in to “The Situation Room” at 5 p.m. to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.

And we’d love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: 2012 Election • Tea Party
August 4th, 2011
02:36 PM ET

Tea party's effect on the federal government?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The old saying is you can't fight city hall. The country's city hall is Washington, D.C.

And the frustration being felt by Americans with that city is palpable. We are lied to, pandered to, taken advantage of and taken for granted. And election after election, we watch the quality of our lives and our country continue to ebb away.

Most of us feel powerless to do anything about it.

Enter the tea party.

Love them or hate them, they are making a difference, changing the debate. When the conservative faction of the Republican Party was formed, it subscribed to a set of principles that, surprise, it continues to cling to today.

Tea party movement members said they would go to Washington and work for smaller government, lower taxes, less spending and a general disengagement of the federal government from our everyday lives.

Now granted, their recipe for success doesn't appeal to everyone.

But the point worth making here is this:

It is possible to fight Washington. They just finished doing it with the debt ceiling fiasco. The government was brought to its knees and made to look absolutely silly by a small group in the House of Representatives – just 60 out of 435 members.

They came to Washington and did exactly what they said they would do. That doesn't happen often in Washington.

But there is a lesson here for all of us:

Vote in enough numbers for the people you believe in and can trust, and who knows what might be possible.

Here’s my question to you: What's your impression of the effect the tea party has had on the federal government?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Tea Party
July 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Will the Tea Party's hard line on the debt ceiling ultimately help or hurt them?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to the debt ceiling debate, members of the so-called Tea Party - particularly those in the House - have taken a hard line, and they are not straying from it. Deep spending cuts - no new taxes, or no deal.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/07/21/art.tea.party.jpg caption=""]
Their unwillingness to compromise has not only hurt the chances of a deal on the debt debate, it's also damaged the negotiating power of their own party leaders like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who have grown more open to compromise as the clock ticks down toward a deadline.

It's a tough place to be for Republicans who aren't buying the Tea Party message, particularly those in the Senate who have shown interest in the Gang of Six bipartisan compromise. But compromise isn't on the Tea Party agenda, and the passage of the so-called Cut, Cap and Balance bill in the House earlier this week proves that.

The bill requires steeper spending cuts, and it pushes for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. But of course that bill has little chance of passing in the Senate, and President Obama said he will veto it if it ever gets to his desk. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

In the end, House Republicans may be forced to vote for a short-term agreement on the debt ceiling to avoid a government default - and to save face with constituents. Either way, if a deal is reached on the debt ceiling by August 2, we'll find out just how much - or how little - power the Tea Party really has.

Here’s my question to you: Will the Tea Party's hard line on the debt ceiling ultimately help or hurt them?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Tea Party
April 21st, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Which will cause GOP more problems in 2012: Dems or Tea Party?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite last year's midterm shellacking of the Democrats and record low approval ratings for President Obama, there is a big potential problem for Republicans heading into the 2012 presidential election. Other Republicans.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/21/art.tea.party.jpg caption="Last week's 2011 Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party."]
More specifically, the Tea Party; that grassroots movement that helped the GOP win the House last fall and weaken the Democrats' hold on the Senate. These days they are all but driving the Republican agenda. They want big spending cuts and a much smaller government. The thing is a lot of Americans agree with them. And many of the newly-elected lawmakers who ran on those platforms have proven they're willing to stick to the budget-slashing principles even if it effectively paralyzes Congress.

Fifty-four Republicans in the House voted against last week's budget bill and for a government shutdown, a sign that upcoming battles like raising the debt ceiling and reforming Medicare could get very ugly.

The old line establishment Republicans aren't nearly so extreme, and that could become a problem when it comes time for the GOP to run against the Democrats in next year's elections. Potential GOP candidates like Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and Donald Trump have all made appearances at Tea Party events this month. Others like Mitt Romney and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have chosen to steer clear of events, while still speaking favorably of the group.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll, just 32% of Americans have a favorable view of the Tea Party, while 46% have a favorable view of the Democratic party and 44% have a favorable view of Republicans.

Here’s my question to you: Which will cause Republicans more problems next year: Democrats or the Tea Party?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party • Republicans • Tea Party
January 27th, 2011
04:35 PM ET

Tea Party the answer to cutting govt. spending?


Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) greets a supporter during the first meeting of the U.S. Senate Tea Party Caucus today on Capitol Hill. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

For those who thought the Tea Party was a passing fad, it might be time to reconsider:

For starters, it seems like the Tea Partiers may be among the only people in Washington who are serious about reining in government spending.

While Democrats and Republicans talk... and talk... and talk about cutting spending and reducing our skyrocketing deficits and $14 trillion national debt, some in the Tea Party have real solutions.

Newly elected Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is proposing cutting $500 billion from federal spending in just one year. To be sure, he has some drastic suggestions - including cutting $42 billion from the food stamp program and $16 billion from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Also on Paul's cutting block: the Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, most of the Department of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Massive cuts also for Homeland Security, the federal court system and the FDA. And that's just some of it.

Paul says he hopes he can start a dialogue in Congress about how to save the economy. It's clear that Paul and his fellow Tea Partiers are going to put some serious pressure on the republican leadership.

In fact, they already have. Look no further than Michele Bachmann's response to the president's state of the union address this week. it's unheard of to have two responses... but the republican leadership was afraid to say no.

Here’s my question to you: Is the Tea Party the answer to finally getting government spending under control?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Tea Party
November 23rd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is the Tea Party here to stay?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Tea Party movement might just be getting started.

After a year of rallies and protests and a strong showing in the midterm elections, the Tea Party is getting significant support from the public.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows Americans are split as to whether they want Tea Party-backed members of Congress or President Obama to take the lead in setting policy.

The folks at the White House must love this:

In the poll, 28 percent say Obama should have the most influence on government policy in the next year; but 27 percent want the Tea Party to set the course.

The traditional political parties trail behind, with 23 percent choosing Republican congressional leaders to influence policy and only 16 percent choosing Democratic leaders.

Experts say the nation's divided mood "guarantees that there will be gridlock." That's because government follows public opinion, and public opinion is all over the place about who should be in charge.

Meanwhile, here's another sign that the Tea Party could have some real staying power:

The Wall Street Journal reports many Tea Party groups around the country are focusing their agenda of limited government and penny-pinching on local governments.

Here’s my question to you: Is the Tea Party here to stay?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Tea Party
September 22nd, 2010
04:49 PM ET

Why do Palin and O'Donnell attract so much attention?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It feels like Sarah Palin all over again.

Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell burst onto the national stage with her upset win in the primaries; and suddenly everyone can't seem to get enough of her.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/22/art.odonnell.jpg caption=" U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell smiles at supporters before doing a television interview at her Senate primary night party on September 14, 2010 in Dover, Delaware. "]
This is despite the fact that O'Donnell has some big question marks on her resume - just like Sarah Palin. She's come under fire for allegedly misusing campaign funds for personal expenses-just like Sarah Palin.

O'Donnell has also been in the spotlight for saying years ago she "dabbled in witchcraft" and had one of her first dates with a witch "on a satanic altar." And she's used her views on abstinence to rule out masturbation.

After her last-minute cancellation of two Sunday show appearances over the weekend, O'Donnell announced Sarah Palin advised her not to do any more national media interviews, and instead focus on local media.

Based on Sarah Palin's disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, that's probably not bad advice. I wonder if it means O'Donnell is as poorly informed on the issues as Sarah Palin was.

It all sounds so familiar. Palin's resume is littered with goofy comments like saying you can see Russia from Alaska or not being able to name a single newspaper she reads.

Palin quit as governor of Alaska midway through her first term. She often refuses to talk about lots of issues with the media, unless it's with the F-word network - which pays her.

But none of that seems to matter. Sarah Palin has become a huge celebrity who is seriously being talked about as a possible presidential contender. Just what we need. Remember the McCain campaign?

Here’s my question to you: Why do people like Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell attract so much attention?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


September 16th, 2010
05:35 PM ET

What message if Reid loses to Tea Party candidate?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the wake of the Tea Party's primary successes, suddenly the game has changed.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/16/art.reid.jpg caption=""]
The marquee match-up going into November is in Nevada, where the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, is trailing Republican Sharron Angle - who's backed by many in the Tea Party.

A new poll of likely voters in Nevada shows Angle and Reid tied, but with Angle leading among the crucial Independent voters by seven points.

Sharron Angle says controversial stuff - like calls to "phase out" Social Security and Medicare; and eliminate the IRS and the Department of Education.

Doesn't matter... just like in Delaware it didn't matter that Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell has a history of financial problems and has used her views on abstinence to rule out masturbation.

One of the reasons Harry Reid is in big trouble is he was President Obama's water carrier on such controversial legislation as the health care plan. Most people didn't want it - but thanks to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi we got it anyway.

If there's a single race anywhere in the country that will set the Tea Party up for a legitimate place on the stage in the drama that will be the presidential race of 2012... it's the defeat of the Senate Majority Leader. How will the Democrats explain it if Reid loses?

Midterm elections traditionally are a bit of a yawn, but you may want to get your tickets early for this year's because my hunch is it will quickly turn into standing room only.

Here’s my question to you: What message would it send if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loses to a Tea Party candidate?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Harry Reid • Tea Party
September 15th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Is the Tea Party for real?


Tea Party backed Christine O'Donnell. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Tea Party movement might just be the best thing that ever happened to the Democrats - raising questions about internal divisions among Republicans.

Two Tea Party favorites defeated more mainstream Republicans in yesterday's primaries. In Delaware, Christine O'Donnell easily won over nine-time U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in the Senate primary.

Castle, who held elected office in Delaware for more than 40 years, had the entire national GOP establishment behind him while O'Donnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

Many believe O'Donnell's win means the Democrats now have an unexpected chance to keep the Delaware Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. One Republican strategist described the Delaware primary results as "straight out of Harry Reid's dream journal."

Meanwhile, another Tea Party victory came in New York, where Carl Paladino beat Rick Lazio in the primary for governor. Paladino will run against the heavily favored Democrat, Andrew Cuomo.

Although some question the ability of Tea Party candidates to win in the general election, others insist it is one of the most powerful movements in recent American history.

A piece in the Washington Examiner headlined "One nation under revolt" says that while many have ignored or belittled the Tea Party, it has only grown stronger - showing an unprecedented level of activism and enthusiasm.

And here's part of the reason for the Tea Party's success: a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows only one in four Americans say they trust the government to do what is right always or most of the time.

Here’s my question to you: Is the Tea Party for real?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Elections • Republican Party • Republicans • Tea Party