While loud and raucous rallies are still a part of the tea party toolbox, the movement, which came to life over dissatisfaction with big government and anger over government bailouts and President Barack Obama’s health care reform, is evolving.
“After the 2010 elections, what was interesting, we moved to what I call Tea Party 2.0,” said Clyde Fabretti, a conservative activist affiliated with tea party groups in Florida such as the West Orlando Tea Party and the Central Florida Tea Party Council. “2.0 allows for … our ability to accomplish legislative initiatives, supporting various tea party candidates that adhere to the principles and values. And we have been hugely active.”
“But it isn’t the kind of activity that makes the press,” Fabretti continued. “I mean, when you put 5,000 people at an event, you know, everybody shows up with their cameras. You have 10 meetings with different legislators on [Capitol] Hill — nobody knows about it.”
With many activists still lukewarm to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, many in the movement say they will focus intensely on flipping the Senate into Republican hands.
Rallying the troops is part of the movement’s agenda. On Friday, the Tea Party Express kicked off its sixth national bus tour, weaving its way through Pennsylvania and Ohio then heading to Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas, all states with contested Senate races.
But leaders in the movement described other tactics they’re using — some long-tried, some new that are designed to train and mobilize tea party and conservative activists for political warfare.
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