Dems seek to tie GOP to Tea Party movement

Democrats on Wednesday rolled out what they said was a major initiative to link Republicans to the Tea Party movement. 

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) will unveil a new campaign called the “Republican-Tea Party Contract With America,” a play on the Contract with America, the 1994 platform on which GOP candidates campaigned.

The campaign will lay out “how the Tea Party is now the most potent force in Republican politics and … an institutionalized part of the Republican party,” said a DNC source. 

The campaign is meant to cast Republican candidates this fall as inextricably tied with the Tea Party movement, and is part of an effort by Democrats to underscore the difference between themselves and the GOP ahead of November’s elections. 

“They are one and the same. The positions espoused by the Tea Party is the governing platform of the Republican party,” the DNC source added. “And as voters make their choice this fall it’s important to understand what the Republican-Tea Party wants to do if elected.”

By tying the GOP to the Tea Party movement, Democrats hope to portray Republicans as outside the mainstream and unfit to govern. 

Confidence in this strategy has been bolstered by victories in a few House races where Democrats have run against candidates backed by the Tea Party, and by new polls showing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a stronger position now that his opponent is Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, who has made controversial statements about Social Security. 

But in an election year where voters are angry with incumbents, there’s no guarantee the strategy will work. 

Republicans have tried to take advantage of the energy of the Tea Party movement, and some Republicans have pushed their party to embrace it. A new Tea Party House caucus was formed last week by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

The DNC is billing the Tea Party Contract as a major part of their election efforts, less than 100 days before the election. The effort includes a website and new Web video (below), and will likely include paid advertisements. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will join with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a DNC vice chairwoman, to detail the plan. 

The effort is also a bid by Democrats to define the GOP platform before Republicans have a chance to do so themselves. 

Republicans are working on a new “Contract for America” similar to the campaign document unveiled by the GOP before the 1994 elections, when they won the House majority. Top Republicans have suggested they are likely to lay out some sort of written platform this year, but not until they have a chance to confer with constituents during the August congressional recess.

Democrats worried about losing the House this fall are trying to go on the offensive against Republicans in August.

“While GOP leaders are still promising to hold town halls and online forums to develop a contract of their own, it’s already clear what that agenda will be based on — what self-professed Tea Party adherents have said they stand for and the Republican adoption of the Tea Party,” said the DNC source.

The items on the “Tea Party Contract with America” are:

1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Health insurance Reform)

2. Privatize Social Security or phase it out altogether

3. End Medicare as it presently exists

4. Extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil

5. Repeal Wall Street Reform

6. Protect those responsible for the oil spill and future environmental catastrophes

7. Abolish the Department of Education

8. Abolish the Department of Energy

9. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency

10. Repeal the 17th Amendment which provides for the direct election of senators

Find the DNC’s new video below: