WASHINGTON – Even anti-government icon Ron Paul can’t escape the conservative “Tea Party” fervor stretching across the county.
Paul, the Gulf Coast congressman whose 2008 presidential run excited libertarians nationwide, even though he didn’t get much traction overall, is considered by many to be the “father of the Tea Parties.” But he has three opponents in the March Republican primary – more than he has faced in his past six primary campaigns combined.
All three have ties to the anti-tax Tea Party movement. And while Paul remains the odds-on favorite to win re-election in his district, the crowded primary highlights the potential conflict between Tea Party activists and a GOP hoping to ride their wave to electoral success this fall.
This may seem strange given the fact that there seems to be a direct correlation between Paul’s 2008 campaign for President and the “Tea Party” movement, but clearly the Congressman can’t control this populist beast:
[T]he movement has clearly moved beyond Paul’s dedicated core of supporters, a fact the congressman has seemingly acknowledged. He plans to attend a Tea Party-sponsored candidate forum in Katy this month, but he has distanced himself from the Tea Parties in recent interviews because of the antagonistic tone of some rallies.
“He has a very good relationship with the Tea Parties,” Benton said. “But it is very important that these rallies maintain a certain level of decorum and respect.”
Apparently, that’s asking too much.
Rachael Maddow covered this story last night: