NH Tea Party Split on Whom to Support

Lack of stand-out candidate could dilute movement's influence on NH Primary.

Throughout this presidential campaign, there has been a lot of talk about the influence the Tea Party would have on the race. But in the end, it looks like the liberty movement may wind up having little to no impact on who winds up winning the New Hampshire Primary.

Some individual Tea Party leaders have endorsed. But for the most part, members of the movement have stayed out of the fray.

“It would be nice if we could get behind one person who we believed could be a viable, honest candidate with integrity who doesn’t flip flop and wasn’t making money off Freddie and Fannie when every conservative knew they were going to crash,” said Jane Aitken, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition, the umbrella organization for the state’s 50-plus liberty groups. “But we just probably can’t.”

“What we decided is it’s too early for us to reach a decision now,” said Diane Bitter, vice chairwoman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC. “There is no one candidate that jumps up and says ‘This is it.’”

Instead, the various Tea Party members in the state are left trying to decide between backing a candidate who they believe in but has no chance of winning, or someone who doesn’t necessarily embody the values they hold dear but at least stands a chance of beating Barack Obama. 

Nationally, Tea Party organizers are having the same problem. So far, it’s been difficult to find one candidate with universal support in the liberty movement.

Dante Scala, a University of New Hampshire political science professor, said he isn’t surprised that the various Tea Party groups haven’t been able to settle on one candidate.

“I think the odds were against it,” he said. “The Tea Party in New Hampshire is hardly a top down organization, so there’s no sense in which there’s a few party leaders who give direction and everyone else falls into line. That’s not the nature of it. It’s really a loosely organized coalition of groups which don’t always have a lot in common with one another.

“There’s just not much evidence to say that the Tea Party has the capability to unite,” he added. “Especially with this field, there are so many different flavors of conservative, anti-establishment candidates with very little distinction between one another that it’s going to be hard to unite behind one.”

But Aitken doesn’t see the New Hampshire Tea Party’s failure to rally around a single candidate as a major concern. She said the liberty movement isn’t about endorsing candidates, it’s about issues.

That’s why she was so upset when Christine O’Donnell endorsed Mitt Romney last week.

"Christine O'Donnell is wrong to endorse someone. Real #TeaPartys DO NOT ENDORSE,” Aitken wrote in a tweet sent after O’Donnell announced her endorsement.

After all, Aitken said, the Tea Party was started based on issues, not endorsing a particular candidate.

“The 9-12 groups, when they formed, Glenn Beck specified it wasn’t about campaigning,” she said. “How do you know everybody in your group likes that person? People are not happy to be told they have to vote for someone who can win. They don’t want the lesser of two evils."

Especially in a year like this one, when Aitken said few of the candidates have done a good very job of living up to Tea Party ideals.

“You cannot tell them what do to,” Aitken said. “That’s why we don’t endorse. We don’t speak for every person in the Tea Party.”

The Tea Party endorsements that have been made in New Hampshire so far have all been personal ones, and not on behalf of the groups they are part of.

Jerry DeLemus, chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, recently backed Michele Bachmann. Former state GOP Chairman Jack Kimball backed Herman Cain, and then Newt Gingrich when Cain dropped out. Tom Thomson went with Romney. Jennifer Horn, founder of the We The People group, was with Tim Pawlenty before he dropped out, and is expected to announce that she's endorsing Romney later today.

“They made it clear it was a personal endorsement,” Aitken said.

Bitter said many of the rumors about the Tea Party’s divided nature isn’t factual, as the New Hampshire groups are all “really respectful to one another” and there is “no friction and no separation.”

She said there are differing schools of thought when it comes to the various candidates, although she said Tea Party leaders recently decided that coalescing behind one candidate “is not going to happen” — at least not yet. 

“We really found it was premature to make any final statements at this point,” Bitter said. “Let’s give it a little time.”

Granite State Tea Party groups are making efforts, though, to try and help Tea Party members choose their preferred candidate. One such effort is through a lengthy matrix that breaks down all of the Republican candidates’ stances on roughly 60 different issues.

Bitter said the document is being circulated throughout the state with the hope that it will be a “very valuable tool” come the various primaries and caucuses in 2012.

“We’re sharing it with all Tea Party members as a way of saying, ‘We want you to make up your mind as to which candidate works for you,’” she said. “We want them to look at it and come up with their own answer, and not wait for the Tea Party leaders to tell them (who to support).”

Richard Gottlieb December 20, 2011 at 07:14 PM
The Tea Party is "Unhappy." I guess that means it's Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy.....
Liberty 603 December 20, 2011 at 08:04 PM
No mention of the candidate who inspired the whole modern day Tea Party movement, the "intellectual godfather" who is polling first in Iowa and second in NH?
Quintus 'Blessed Cheesemaker' Carr December 20, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Where's Dr. Ron Paul?
Bill Greene December 20, 2011 at 08:13 PM
“It would be nice if we could get behind one person who we believed could be a viable, honest candidate with integrity who doesn’t flip flop and wasn’t making money off Freddie and Fannie when every conservative knew they were going to crash." His name is Ron Paul: the Father of the modern Tea Party movement. Time to defeat the flip-flopper and the DC insider, and vote TEA PARTY.
gabe December 20, 2011 at 08:16 PM
ObserverNH December 20, 2011 at 09:38 PM
It isn't that they can't agree on a candidate, they haven't tried because they agreed NOT to endorse.
ObserverNH December 20, 2011 at 09:39 PM
There are many RP supporters in the tea party... but since not all people who consider themselves RP supporters, it just can't be done.
jrmetalman December 21, 2011 at 03:16 AM
In my opinion, only Ron Paul is strong enough and filled with enough conviction to vote for. He is a Doctor who wants to perform major surgery on our ailing government. Forget about Wall Street, it's our whole corrupted system and everyone involved to blame! I don't believe Ron Paul is too old, he's just old enough to know better. He knows better than you and me, and we should hear him out. He has lived a splendid life filled with service. Service to his wife and family, service to his profession and country, and now service to us all. The finest congressman and best candidate this cycle bar none. A vote for Doctor Paul, is a vote to take your country back.
Keith Myrdek December 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM
And Ron Paul supporter's will try for 1st !
ForThePeople December 22, 2011 at 04:27 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/21/jim-sensenbrenner-michelle-obama_n_1163711.html?ncid=webmail2 Until we get a Democrat blogger… going to leave this one here. Tony, how about it? A Democrat for Christmas, maybe?
ForThePeople December 22, 2011 at 04:42 PM
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/grappling-with-ron-pauls-racist-newsletters/250206/ The article: all about why Ron Paul appeals to the people that he does. I'm sure we have all noticed some of his rather interesting followers. It describes the racist newsletters as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CkxHlK--SI The video: complete with narrative by a supporter upset over it. A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for extremism and bigotry. I've included the article and video of him walking off a CNN interview after being asked about it. Ron Paul keeps running away; it shows his true colors and "conviction." There's still time to find another candidate.
Keith Myrdek December 23, 2011 at 01:41 AM
And I would have walked of too if I was him!
Tony Schinella (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 02:00 PM
@ForThePeople: We have a number of Democrats blogging on Concord NH Patch including folks from the NHDP, two state reps., and another activist. However, I can't control the frequency by which they post or what they write about. If you would like to be a regular blogger, email me and I'll set it up for you. You will, however, need to use your real name.
Tony Schinella (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 02:02 PM
I don't know if I would have walked off. I probably would have changed the subject and talked about the present, not the past.
Tony Schinella (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 05:15 PM
@Regina: We have GOP bloggers too, including the head of NHGOP. :-) We have made offers to other Republicans too. The door is always open to commenting and blogging. Just email and we'll set you up!
James Gill December 27, 2011 at 07:00 AM
I dont care who we elect as long as Obama is not elected back in office .We need a person that can stand up, to the well spoken Obama that uses a tele prompter to speak .. Newt can handle that as i see it
ForThePeople December 27, 2011 at 04:35 PM
I don't understand the objection to the Teleprompter. Please elaborate.
sam sneed January 09, 2012 at 08:31 PM
This is a reply to "for the people" who cites racial news letters. First the newsletter claimed MLK was an adulterer. Is that true? Of course it is the FBI is quoted as saying that 14 of the 15 boxes of videotape they have on MLK is of his open whoring. So many of the statements which are listed as "Outrageous" are actually simply... not ready for mainstream consumption. In any event Ron Paul has disavowed them as being produced by other writers (most likely Lew Rockwell) and that he is NOT against blacks but actually FOR blacks as he OPPOSES the war on drugs which has unfairly hit blacks the most. He is also for personal liberty for all - blacks included. Secondly, the clip you cite of Ron Paul walking away - give me a BREAK. This is reviewed MANY PLACES as an edited (FORGED) clip. The interview was being pushy, Paul answered the same question many times, and finally the interview was over. It was only edited to look like Paul was avoiding it. This is but ONE of the many crap loads that the mainstream media has produced to make paul look bad. Others include playing FAKE BOOS when he won the straw poll or check out CBS's recent listing of Poll Results in New Hampshire SKIPPING RON PAUL who is in second place and NOT SHOWING HIM IN THE RACE. If you aren't smart enough to see such tactics as PURE F-IN EVIL they you sir are hopeless.
sam sneed January 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
James Gill January 09, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Fred, Your right on .Any but but Obama .
Tonto January 10, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Right on any body but Oblamer :)
ForThePeople January 10, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Maybe you should read the article. Sidestepping and trying to reverse the spin is what every politician does. You didn't even address the reference. Listen folks, here is an example of a bad discussion: person a: Ron Paul permitted bigotry. person b: Ron Paul is not a racist. Here is how you improve that argument: person a: Ron Paul permitted bigotry: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/grappling-with-ron-pauls-racist-newsletters/250206/ person b: Ron Paul did not do the things you said he did because: <Ron Paul reference here> Do you see how the discourse improves when you respond directly to a discussion topic with information? If we are just going to point fingers and make stuff up, it just turns into a flame war. If you are going to provide a counterpoint, try actually providing a counterpoint instead of just guessing your way through it. And it's not just you. Certainly, most of the Republicans on this board do the same thing. I don't question their passion, but I certainly question their ability to think through problems logically, rationally, and objectively. For this article, you have *faith* that Ron Paul isn't a bigot. I provided reference of racism that went on for years under his name. Go ahead and vote on faith, but I'm just presenting the facts and the topic.
John St Croix January 16, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Hey guess what? I heard that over 20 tea party leaders DID endorse Ron Paul including the person who created the Coalition -- someone from the original tea party in 2007. So that's a majority is it not?


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